About the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV)

HPV Basics: 

The Connection to Cancer 

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the world's most common and widespread viral infections. It's the cause of most cancers of the cervix and other anogenital sites as well as many of the oropharynx (tonsils and throat). Cervical cancer is a deadly sexually transmitted disease that affects women of all ages, including many in their thirties and forties. Oropharyngeal cancer, also a deadly and disfiguring disease, occurs mostly in men, usually in their 50's and 60's.

HPV Infections: 

By the Numbers

There are more than 35,000 cases of HPV-related malignancies in the U.S. each year. Arkansas, in particular, has some of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the country.

The HPV vaccine prevents this disease.

HPV is generally acquired in adolescence (age 13 and up) or early adulthood and is passed from person to person through physical contact. In most cases, infection is asymptomatic (causes no discomfort) and spontaneously cleared in weeks to months. For unknown reasons, it persists in some persons, and infected sites become cancerous 20-40 years later when people are in the prime of life.

HPV & Cancer Prevention: 

An Effective Vaccine

A safe and effective vaccine called Gardasil 9 (Merck) has been available since 2006 and given to millions of children worldwide with minimal side effects. Some countries, including Australia, Switzerland, and the UK, have embraced universal vaccination and predict that cervical cancer and pre-cancers will be eradicated in the next decade.


The incidence of oral infections and cancers has declined significantly as well. In addition, HPV causes genital warts (condylomata acuminata), and vaccination prevents these.


Vaccination against HPV is not mandated in the US, but that does not mean that it is not very important. The most significant barrier to vaccination is the failure of health care providers to recommend it and the failure of parents to request it. Essentially, it's up to you to ask for it!

HPV in Arkansas: 

The Need to Vaccinate

Vaccination is recommended for both boys and girls. In Washington and Benton Counties, the 2019 statistics suggest that less than 50% of adolescents have been properly vaccinated. Complete vaccination is a series of 2 injections, six months apart, before the age of 15, or 3 injections after that age. Many adolescents do not complete the vaccination process and are not optimally protected. Early vaccination affords better protection as exposure and susceptibility to HPV are common, starting around age 13.

 Early vaccination could also save you money. The HPV vaccine is FREE to any child under the age of 18 with or without insurance. After age 18, you pay for all 3 doses without insurance.

HPV Parent Resources 

Visit our FAQ Page for immediate questions

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Learn about the vaccine at the Centers for disease control

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Get local HPV info at the Arkansas Department of Health

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Find an HPV immunization location near you

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Find cancer info at the National Cancer Institute

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Get Local Cancer Info at Arkansas Cancer Coalition

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There are over 150 types of HPV.

HPV is a very common virus.

Both boys and girls can be infected.

Schedule a vaccine today! It's your child's best shot against cancer.

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