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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - What you need to know

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a family of very common and contagious viruses. HPV is responsible for almost all cervical cancer cases, as well as other cancers including mouth, throat, anal and penile cancers, as well as genital warts. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Canada – three in four Canadians will be infected by HPV at least once in their lifetime. Because most sexually active people who have HPV are unaware that they have it, the infection is often passed unknowingly on to partners.  Younger immune systems respond better to HPV immunization.  Research shows that the best immune response to the vaccine occurs before sexual activity begins.  The HPV vaccine has been well-researched, is safe and most effective before exposure to the virus.  

The HPV vaccine is free to all Grade 7 students in Ontario as part of the provincial school-based HPV vaccination program that started in the 2007-2008 school year. HPV vaccine is usually given in two injections, at least six months apart. Students who have missed the Grade 7 HPV vaccination or still need their second dose, have until the end of high school to complete it.  

If you are under the age of 26 and want to get the HPV vaccine, talk to your doctor or call the health unit. You can buy the vaccine with a prescription and it may be covered through private insurance. Men who have sex with men can get the HPV vaccine for free until their 27th birthday.

The HPV vaccine can help prevent cancer and save lives. The decision today to sign the immunization consent form will reduce the risk of developing numerous types of HPV-related cancers later in life.

More information about HPV and the HPV vaccine:

HPV and cancer

HPV and genital warts

Sexual Health Ontario

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Ministry of Health

 

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