Skip to content

The Medical Minute: The basics about HPV and vaccinations

The Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease today. HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer, but can also cause other types of cancer in women and men. The virus can affect the genitals, mouth and other areas, and you can have HPV and not know it.

But HPV is largely preventable with vaccination.

In this week's edition of Project Health, Dr. Rollyn Ornstein talks about the importance of vaccination for HPV, especially at an early age.

“It's really important to be vaccinated prior to the onset of sexual activity,” Ornstein says. “In addition, children as young as 9, 10, 11 years old probably make a better immune response to the vaccine, therefore early vaccination is important.”

HPV vaccination involves a series of three shots over six months, and all three doses are necessary to provide the best protection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccination is recommended for 11- or 12-year-old boys and girls. However older people can also benefit from vaccination.

To learn more about HPV and vaccination, visit the CDC's HPV information page. For detailed information on who should get vaccinated by age group, visit our Penn State Hershey Health Library HPV vaccine page.

The Medical Minute is a weekly health news feature brought to you by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Articles feature the expertise of Penn State Hershey faculty physicians and staff, and are designed to offer timely, relevant health information of interest to a broad audience.

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email Penn State Health Marketing & Communications.