Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

In the News

The AAP, along with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Physicians (ACP), and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) — together with the Immunization Action Coalition and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have issued a call urging  physicians across the United States to educate their patients about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and to strongly recommend HPV vaccination.


On July 26, 2013, the CDC released an MMWR on HPV, showing low, stagnating vaccination rates. Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to address missed opportunities and vaccinate adolescents to protect against many forms of cancer. Resources for pediatricians to reduce office barriers and address parents' common concerns related to HPV vaccine are below.


The Disease

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US. More than 50% of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives. There are about 40 different types of HPV that can cause infection. Certain types can cause genital warts in women and men, as well as serious health problems such as cervical cancer in women and other cancers in the genital area and throat in women and men.


The Immunization

HPV vaccine can prevent most genital warts and many of the cancers mentioned above. HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for both boys and girls in a 3-dose series. The first dose is given at 11-12 years of age, a second dose is given 1-2 months after the first dose, and a 3rd dose is given approximately 6 months after the first dose. The vaccine is also recommended for men up to 21 and women up to 26 years of age who did not receive it when they were younger.


Younger children respond better to the immunization. This is why it is recommended at 11-12 years. It is also important to get the vaccine series before the first sexual encounter so that it can provide the most protection. Even with just one partner, the risk of being exposed to HPV is high.



Resources for Pediatricians



Recommendations for Pediatricians



Information to Share with Parents and Teens



Key Messages to Share with Families

These messages can be customized or sent directly to parents or adolescents via e-mail or text message.


  • Doctors urge parents to bring 11 to 12 year olds in for HPV vaccine to prevent certain cancers.
  • HPV is a very common virus that can lead genital warts as well as cancers of the mouth, throat, and sex organs.  A vaccine is available to protect your teen.
  • Your child’s immune system may respond to HPV vaccine best when 11 to 12 years old. Be sure to get him/her vaccinated.
  • HPV vaccine works and it’s safe.  Be sure to get your pre-teens and teens vaccinated.
  • HPV vaccine takes 3 doses to work.  Don’t forget to bring your teen in to finish the series.

Finally, the AAP asks that pediatricians provide a strong recommendation for HPV vaccine. Studies have shown that parents trust their pediatrician’s guidance; unfortunately, some providers report not issuing a strong recommendation for HPV vaccine. Be sure to give a strong recommendation for all vaccines on the current immunization schedule and not merely mention that they are available. Rates of vaccination remain low for a variety of reasons. One of the best things you can do to help encourage better uptake rates is to answer parents' questions about the vaccine, and strongly recommend adolescents are vaccinated with HPV vaccine at 11-12 years of age, before being exposed to the virus.

Other Resources


Last Updated: 2/12/2014


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