Human Papillomavirus (HPV) & HPV Vaccine Quick Facts
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and there are more than 200 known HPV types, the majority of which are not harmful;1
- About 75% of HPVs have been associated with non-cancerous warts (papillomas) on the hands, chest, arms and feet, such as low-risk HPV types 6 and 11;2
- About 40 HPV types have been found in the mucosal surfaces of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, mouth and throat, including the most common high-risk (cancer-causing) HPV types 16 and 18. High-risk HPV types are associated with development of cancer of the cervix and five other genital and oral cancers affecting women and men;3
- HPV infection is experienced by the majority of sexually active women and men and is naturally cleared from the body within two years by more than 90 percent of those who become infected4. Antibodies to the type of HPV that caused the infection remain in the body to help prevent future re-infection with that same HPV type;5
- Sometimes HPV infection does not clear from the body naturally and the infection becomes chronic.6
- Women who are chronically infected with HPV for many years and who don’t get pre-cancerous cervical lesions promptly identified and treated can develop cervical cancer and die.7
- High risk factors for developing HPV-related cancers include: smoking, multiple sexual partners, long-term oral contraceptive use, multiple births, weakened immune system, co-infection with Chlamydia or HIV, poor nutrition, heavy drinking and smoking, and chronic inflammation;8
- After Pap smear tests that screen for cancerous conditions became a routine part of gynecological health care for American women in the 1960’s, U.S. cervical cancer cases dropped by 75 percent.9 Women are recommended to get regular Pap tests throughout their life whether or not they get HPV vaccinations;10
- In 2014, there were 42,394 new HPV related cancer cases reported,11 which represents less than three percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S.12 and one one hundredth of a percent (.0001) of the U.S. population.13
- In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated that 12,845 American women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and that there were 4,175 related deaths.14
- The CDC currently recommends two doses of Gardasil 9,15 the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved HPV vaccine currently available in the U.S. Gardasil 9, manufactured by Merck, was licensed in 2014 to prevent cervical, vulvar and anal cancers caused by high risk HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58; genital warts caused by low risk HPV types 6 and 11; and precancerous lesions caused by all of these HPV types.16 The vaccine is approved for use by females and males ages 9 to 26 years.17 Two additional FDA approved HPV vaccines, Gardasil,18 the original HPV vaccine licensed in 2006, covering HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18, and Cervarix vaccine,19 licensed in 2009, covering HPV types 16 and 18 are currently not available in the U.S.
- Merck’s original Gardasil vaccine was studied for less than two years in about 1,200 girls under age 16 before it became the first U.S. licensed HPV vaccine. Prior to licensure, Gardasil was not studied in children with health problems or in combination with all other vaccines routinely given to American adolescents, such as Tdap and meningococcal vaccines.20
- To evaluate safety, rather than uniformly comparing Gardasil to an inert saline placebo, the vaccine was compared to its bioactive aluminum adjuvant component.21 Later, the majority of Gardasil 9 clinical trial results were bootstrapped by comparing the new Gardasil 9 vaccine to the old Gardasil vaccine.22
- After the original Gardasil vaccine was licensed for 11-12 year old girls and young women, thousands of adverse reaction reports were filed for: sudden collapse with unconsciousness within 24 hours, seizures, muscle pain and weakness, disabling fatigue, Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), facial paralysis brain inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, blood clots, premature ovarian failure, optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, strokes, heart and other serious health problems, including death.23 Similar reports have been filed for the Gardasil 9 vaccine,24 even though the recommended number of doses was reduced from three to two.
- Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of May 31, 2019, the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) contains more than 62,393 reports of HPV vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths and, includes 503 related deaths, 6,286 hospitalizations, and 3,018 disabling conditions. Nearly 47 percent of the reported serious adverse events occurred in children and teens 12-17 years of age.
- As of July 1, 2019, 415 claims were filed with the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following HPV vaccination, which included 15 deaths and 400 serious injuries. Less than a third of claims received compensation.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients
Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more.
Search for Vaccine Reactions
NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts captures symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, geographic locations and more.
Reporting a Vaccine Reaction
Since 1982, the NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is required by law. If your doctor will not report a suspected vaccine reaction, you have the right to report it yourself.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about HPV and the HPV vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 CDC. Surveillance Manual – Chapter 5: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - Background. 6th Edition, 2013.
2 American Cancer Society. HPV Vaccines – What is HPV? Jun. 5, 2018
3 National Institutes of Health (NIH). HPV and Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Feb. 19, 2015.
4 CDC. Surveillance Manual – Chapter 5: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - Disease Description. 6th Edition, 2013.
5 Ho GYF, Studentsov YY. et al. Natural History of Human Papillomavirus Type 16 Virus-Like Particle Antibodies in Young Women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Jan;13(1):110-6.
6 CDC. Surveillance Manual – Chapter 5: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - Disease Description. 6th Edition, 2013.
7 American Cancer Society. What women should know about cervical cancer. Apr. 2016
8 National Institutes of Health (NIH). HPV and Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Feb. 19, 2015.
9 Safaeian M, Soloman D. Cervical Cancer Prevention - Cervical Screening: Science in Evolution. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2007 Dec; 34(4): 739–ix.
10 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines - Do women who have been vaccinated still need to be screened for cervical cancer? May 16, 2018
11 CDC. ACIP Meeting Presentation – Trends in HPV-associated cancers in the United States. Dr. Elizabeth VanDyne, CDC/NCIRD. Feb. 12, 2018.
12 CDC. United States Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations – Leading Cancer Cases and Deaths, Male and Female, 2015.
13 U.S. Census Bureau. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015. May, 2016.
14 CDC. United States Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations – Leading Cancer Cases and Deaths, Male and Female, 2015.
15 Meites E., Kempe, A., Marowitz, LE. Use of 2-Dose Schedule for Human Papillomavirus Vaccination – Updates Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR. 2016;65:1405-1408. Dec. 16, 2016.
16 FDA Approved Products - Gardasil 9. Indications. Feb. 26, 2018.
17 FDA Gardasil 9 – Product insert. Feb. 9, 2018
18 FDA Gardasil – Product insert. Apr. 24, 2015
19 FDA Cervarix – Product insert. Apr. 25, 2016
20 NVIC Preventing Gardasil Vaccine Injuries & Deaths. Jul. 14, 2009
21 FDA Gardasil – Product insert. Apr. 24, 2015
22 FDA Gardasil 9 – Product insert. Feb. 9, 2018
23 MedAlerts Gardasil VAERS Reports. May 14, 2018
24 MedAlerts Gardasil 9 VAERS Reports. May 14, 2018