Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation helps protect against a virus that causes several cancers affecting both men and women.
The HPV vaccine is available free for everyone aged 9-26 years.
What is HPV?
HPV is a very common virus that is spread through intimate skin to skin contact. Most people become infected at some time during their life.
Most HPV infections get better on their own and don't cause any obvious problems. Sometimes they don't get better, and can cause cell changes in the body that can lead to cancer later in life.
What cancers are caused by HPV?
HPV causes most cervical cancer, which is cancer of the lower part of the uterus or womb. Abnormal cells grow on the cervix, which can develop into cancer if they are not detected and removed.
Regular cervical screening is important to prevent the small proportion of cervical cancers that aren't covered by the vaccine.
HPV can cause throat and mouth cancers, which are common in men than women. HPV can also cause cancer of the anus, vagina, vulva and penis.
Some types of HPV cause genital warts.
At what age should people be immunised against HPV?
The vaccine is recommended to be given to children aged 11-12 years, but its free for those aged 9-26 years.
Those aged 9-14 years need two doses of the vaccine, at least six months apart.
Those aged 15 years and older need three doses of the vaccine, spaced over six months.
The vaccine is more effective when its given at a younger age, for two reasons.
Those vaccinated at a younger age have a stronger immune response to protect against infection.
The vaccine prevents infection - it doesn't treat it. This means its less effective in people who have already been exposed to HPV through sexual contact.
If you would like to find out if you qualify for a free immunisation please email firstname.lastname@example.org