Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread via intimate sexual contact.

Most unvaccinated people will get HPV at some point in their life and the virus usually has no symptoms.

Most people who become infected with HPV clear the virus from their body, but others may develop certain types of cancer in later life as a result of HPV infection.

HPV is also a leading cause of genital wart infections.

Evidence is clear that the HPV vaccine helps protect both boys and girls from cancers caused by HPV, including:

  • cervical cancer (in females and anyone with a cervix)
  • head and neck cancers (which are most common in males)
  • anal and genital cancers (penile, vulval or vaginal)

The HPV vaccine is the safest way to protect against HPV-related cancers. 

The vaccine also helps prevent against over 90% of genital wart infections. 

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause 75% of cervical cancer cases in Europe. 

These two types of HPV also cause: 

  • 90% of anal cancers (approximately)
  • 85% of head and neck cancers
  • 78% of vaginal cancers
  • 50% of penile cancers
  • 25% of vulval cancers across the world (statistics vary country to country) 

More information about HPV and the HPV vaccine can be found on NHS inform (external website).

Last updated: 11 November 2022