HPV: Prevent Cervical Cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. The virus, of which there are approximately 40 known types, can cause genital warts, cervical cancer in women, and other types of cancer in both men and women. In fact, HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, of which every year there are around 11,000 new cases. Cervical cancer causes the death of about 4,000 U.S. women each year.

Because HPV usually does not exhibit any symptoms, it is possible to have it without knowing it - and to unknowingly spread the virus to others. This can be prevented with a series of safe, effective vaccines that will protect women - and men - against the most common types of HPV and their related health problems.

The HPV vaccine is administered in a series of two doses and protects against the most common types of HPV - those responsible for genital warts as well as cervical cancer. The vaccination is recommended for males and females age 11-26.

Getting Vaccinated

HPV vaccines are given as a series of two shots over 6 months to protect against HPV infection and the health problems that HPV infection can cause. Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) protect against cervical cancers in women. One vaccine (Gardasil) also protects against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva. Both vaccines are available for females. Only Gardasil is available for males.

HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive both vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active with another person. That's why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. An optimal time to get vaccinated is at age 11-12, when children receive their required Tdap vaccine.HPV vaccines are also recommended for teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger; teen girls and young women through age 26; and teen boys and young men through age 21. Whenever the vaccine is taken, it is important that both doses are received in order to provide the maximum protection.

Dependents up to age 26 may be covered by their parent's insurance. Check with your insurance provider to see if the HPV vaccine is covered by your program. If it is not, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC Program) is available to help families of eligible children get access to recommended vaccines.

VFC vaccines can be administered by any enrolled VFC Program provider, such as private doctors or clinics, hospitals, public health clinics, schools, etc. To locate a VFC-enrolled provider near your home, contact Denise Strickland via email or by phone at 1-866-674-4807.

Getting Screened for Cervical Cancer

For more information about the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer, please read Cervical Cancer Screening with the HPV test and the Pap test in women ages 30 and older, a patient educational brochure available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Demand Programs

  • Human Papillomavirus, FHS Protocol Update, and Adolescent Interviewing
    February 25, 2010
    This program provides information about HPV, new Pap smear guidelines, recent ADPH protocol updates, and techniques to effectively interview adolescent patients.
  • HPV and Cervical Cancer
    January 20, 2010
    This program focuses on HPV and cervical cancer and is part of a series on health disparities in minorities in Alabama continues. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and about a third can lead to cervical cancer. While cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates are decreasing among women in some racial and ethnic populations, trends show numbers continue to be high with African-American and Hispanic women.

Alabama HPV Coalition

ADPH is a member of a coalition of organizations from across Alabama to address barriers and improve human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination rates in the state. For more information about the coalition and the statewide assessment of the HPV vaccination rates, visit UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Additional Resources

Page last updated: August 6, 2018