Human Papilloma Virus
HPV is the name of a very common group of viruses. They do not cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer.
HPV affects the skin. There are more than 100 different types.
How HPV is spread
Many types of HPV affect the mouth, throat or genital area. They're easy to catch and you do not need to have penetrative sex.
You can get HPV from:
- any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
- vaginal, anal or oral sex
- sharing sex toys
HPV has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have it.
It's very common. Most people will get some type of HPV in their life.
You do not have to have sexual contact with a lot of people to get HPV. You can get HPV the first time you're sexually active.
Conditions linked to HPV
Most of the time HPV does not cause any problems.
In some people, some types of HPV can cause:
- genital warts
- abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer HPV types linked to cancer are called high-risk types.
Cancers linked to high-risk HPV include:
- cervical cancer
- anal cancer
- cancer of the penis
- vulval cancer
- vaginal cancer
- some types of head and neck cancer
You can have HPV for many years without it causing problems.
You can have it even if you have not been sexually active or had a new partner for many years.
How to protect yourself against HPV
You cannot fully protect yourself against HPV, but there are things that can help.
- Condoms can help protect you against HPV, but they do not cover all the skin around your genitals, so you're not fully protected.
- The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer, as well as some other cancers. It does not protect against all types of HPV.
Testing for HPV
HPV testing is part of cervical screening. There's no blood test for HPV.
During cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and tested for HPV.
Screening is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64. It helps protect them against cervical cancer.
Some sexual health clinics may offer anal screening to men with a higher risk of developing anal cancer, such as men who have sex with men.
For local information visit Cervical screening programme
Treating HPV infections
There's no treatment for HPV. Most HPV infections do not cause any problems and are cleared by your body within 2 years.
Isle of Man HPV Vaccination Programme
During the school summer holidays, a letter explaining the vaccination programme will be sent out to all parents or guardians of students aged 12-13 across the Island. This will be accompanied by a consent form and leaflet providing further information about the virus and answers to some frequently asked questions.
It is vital that this consent form is completed and returned to the Community Care Directorate, as without it your child will be unable to receive the vaccination as scheduled.
Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection and these are provided in-school during year 8. The first vaccination session will normally be held in in the Autumn term, with the second in the following Spring term. In both cases, the vaccinator gives the vaccination in the upper arm.
2019 - A catch-up programme for older boys is not necessary as evidence suggests they're already benefitting greatly from the indirect protection (known as herd protection) that's built up from 10 years of the girls' HPV vaccination programme.
Updated July 2019