Human papillomavirus (HPV) can be spread from one person to another during sexual activity. There are more than 100 types of HPV and most are harmless. However, some ‘high risk’ types are known to cause cancer and are responsible for almost all cancers of the cervix in women.
In Northern Ireland, girls and boys aged 12 to 13 are offered vaccination to protect them against HPV-related cancers. The vaccine also protects against the strains of HPV that most commonly cause genital warts.
Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is very effective at stopping some cancers of the cervix from developing.
Find out more about HPV in adolescents.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) aged up to and including 45 years and who attend GUM or HIV clinics can also receive the same vaccination against HPV.
Studies have shown that MSM aged up to 45 years who attend GUM or HIV clinics are at greater risk of HPV-associated cancers and genital warts. The HPV vaccine helps prevent infection that can cause genital warts and HPV-associated cancers. It’s especially important for those who have multiple sexual partners.