HPV (Human Papillomavirus)


This study is recruiting girls that were immunized with the HPV vaccine according to their provincial immunization schedule.  Visit www.questhpvstudy.ca to find out if you’re eligible and to learn more about the study details.  

QUEST Newsletter

HPV: Our Family's Story

Audra and her aunt Laura are strong believers in the HPV vaccine, for good reason: Gisel, Audra's mother and Laura's older sister, died from cervical cancer at only 38. 

Watch more HPV videos

About the vaccine 

Three human papillamvirus (HPV) vaccines are approved for use in Canada. Two are recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization: Gardasil® (HPV4) and Cervarix® (HPV2). 

Both the HPV4 and HPV2 vaccine protect against infection from HPV types 16 and 18 that cause about 70% of cervical cancers, 80% of anal cancers and other cancers such as cancers of the mouth and throat, penis, vagina, and vulva. The HPV4 vaccine also protects against infection from HPV types 6 and 11 that cause about 90% of cases of genital warts. 

Who should get the vaccine? 

The HPV4 vaccine is provided free to girls in grade 6. Girls and young women born in 1994 or later who missed getting the HPV4 vaccine may contact their health care provider to get immunized at no cost. 

The HPV4 vaccine is also provided free to males who are at increased risk of HPV infection. This includes males: 

  •  9 to 26 years of age who: 
    • have sex with men, including those who may not yet be sexually active and are questioning their sexual orientation; 
    • are street involved; 
    • are infected with HIV; 
  • 9 to 18 years of age in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development; and 
  • 12 to17 years of age in youth custody services centres.

The HPV4 vaccine is recommended, but not provided free, for the following people: 

  • adult women up to 45 years of age; 
  • boys and men 9 to 26 years of age; and
  • men 27 years of age and older who have sex with men.

The HPV2 vaccine is recommended for girls and women 9 to 45 years of age. The HPV2 vaccine is not routinely provided for free in BC.  

The HPV2 vaccine is not currently approved for use in males. 

The HPV vaccines are given as either 2 or 3 doses over a 6 month period. Children who are 9 to 14 years of age need 2 doses given at least 6 months apart. People 15 years of age and older need 3 doses. 

Those not eligible for a free HPV vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies and travel clinics and at some sexual health clinics.  The HPV4 vaccine costs about $450 for the three doses. The HPV2 vaccine costs about $300 for the three doses.  Some health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine.

It is best to get immunized before becoming sexually active and coming in contact with HPV; however, people who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccines. The vaccines do not treat HPV infections.

What are the benefits of the HPV vaccine?

In women who have never been infected with HPV, the HPV2 and HPV4 vaccines both prevent almost 100% of cases of cancer of the cervix caused by HPV types 16 and 18. The HPV4 vaccine also prevents almost 100% of cases of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. 

HPV vaccine safety 

The HPV vaccine is safe.  The HPV vaccine was well studied in clinical trials and was not approved for use in Canada until the clinical studies showed that it was safe and effective.  Since the HPV vaccine was approved, more than 175 million doses have been distributed worldwide. Vaccine safety monitoring has continued to show that the HPV vaccine is safe.  You can find more information on HPV vaccine safety here

More information about HPV vaccines

For more information about HPV vaccines, including the benefits, possible reactions after the vaccine and who should not get the vaccine, see the HealthLinkBC File: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines

For answers to frequently asked questions about the HPV vaccine, see our HPV vaccine FAQ

About the disease

  • HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Three out of four sexually active women will get HPV at some point in their lives
  • Most don’t show any signs or symptoms and can pass the virus on to others without even knowing it
  • Most HPV infections will clear on their own but for some women the HPV will not go away and cells infected with the virus can become cancerous over time

Every year in BC, approximately:

  • 175 women will get cervical cancer
  • 50 women will die from the disease
  • 6,000 women will develop high risk changes to the cervix which are precancerous
  • Over 500,000 women will undergo Pap tests and over 20,000 will need further follow-up which may include additional Pap tests and other procedures to stop cancer of the cervix from developing
  • 110 people will get anal cancer and 20 will die from the disease
  • 5,500 people will develop genital warts

For more information about HPV, see the HealthLink BC file on HPV infection

Pap tests

It is important for women to get regular Pap tests once they become sexually active because the HPV vaccine protects against most but not all cancers of the cervix. 

To learn more visit: BC Cancer Agency cervical cancer screening page

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