Both males and females can be protected from some of the most common types of HPV by vaccination. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. For persons starting the series before their 15th birthday, 2 doses are recommended. The second dose of HPV vaccine should be given six to twelve months after the first dose. Teens and young adults who start the series at ages 15 through 26 years need three doses of HPV vaccine over a six-month period. It is crucial to get all three doses to ensure the best protection from HPV. The vaccines are most effective when administered at 11 or 12 years of age.
- Females: Gardasil 9® is available to protect against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers, most genital warts and has also been shown to protect against vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers. Gardasil 9® is recommended for girls 11 and 12 years old, and for females 13 through 26 who did not receive any or all doses when they were younger. Gardisil 9® can also be given to complete any series started with immunizations that are no longer on the market.
- Males: Gardasil 9® protects males against most genital warts and anal cancers and is recommended for boys aged 11 or 12 years, and for males 13 through 21 who did not get any or all of the recommended doses when they were younger. Gardisil 9® can also be given to complete any series started with immunizations that are no longer on the market.
HPV vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men, as well as men and women who have compromised immune systems (e.g. HIV/AIDS) through age 26 who did not get any or all of the doses when they were younger.
Condoms may lower the risk of HPV infection for those individuals who are sexually active. Using them for every sex act, from start to finish, is most effective. Condom use may also lower the danger of contracting HPV-related diseases like cervical cancer and genital warts. However, HPV can infect areas NOT covered by a condom - so condoms are not guaranteed protection from HPV.
Individuals can also lessen the risk of contracting human papillomavirus by being in a monogamous relationship, limiting their number of sex partners, and being with a partner who has had no, or few, prior sex partners. But people with a single, lifetime sex partner can still contract HPV. It may not even be apparent if a partner who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected. Abstinence the only sure way to avoid sexually transmitted HPV.