HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

QUEST HPV STUDY

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 papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are recommended for use in Canada:

  • Cervarix® (HPV2)
  • Gardasil® (HPV4)
  • Gardasil®9 (HPV9)

All three vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18 that cause about 70% of cervical cancers and 80% of anal cancers.  The HPV4 and HPV9 vaccines also protect against HPV types 6 and 11 that cause about 90% of cases of genital warts.  The HPV9 vaccine protects against five additional cancer causing types (HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) which account for about 15% of cervical cancers, 11% of anal cancers in females and 4% in males.

All three of these HPV vaccines are approved by Health Canada.

Who should get the vaccine? 

HPV9 vaccine program 

Gardasil®9 (HPV9) is recommended and provided free to females born on or after January 1, 2005 who are in grade 6 or older. Starting September 2016, Gardasil®9 will be offered and provided free to grade 6 girls as part of the school-based immunization program.  This vaccine replaces Gardasil® (HPV4) which was previously used.

Gardasil®9 is also provided free to females 9 to 26 years of age who are infected with HIV.

HPV4 vaccine program 

Gardasil® (HPV4) is free for females born in 1994-2004 who have not received the vaccine. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized females born in 1994 - 2004 will continue to be eligible for HPV4 up to 26 years of age inclusive. They may contact their health care provider to get immunized at no cost.

The vaccine is also free for males who are at an increased risk for HPV infection.  This includes males:

  •  9 to 26 years of age (inclusive) who: 
    • have sex with men (including those who are not yet sexually active and are questioning their sexual orientation) 
    • are street involved 
    • are HIV positive
  • 9 to 18 years of age in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)             
  • in youth custody services centres

Recommended but not publicly funded HPV vaccine

Gardasil® (HPV4) and Gardasil®9 (HPV9) are recommended, but not provided free, for the following people:

  • Women 27 to 45 years of age
  • Males 9-26 years of age (who are not at increased risk for HPV infection)
  • Males 27 years of age and older who have sex with other males. 

Cervarix® (HPV2) is recommended, but not provided free, for girls and women 9 to 45 years of age.  The vaccine is not currently approved for use in boys or men.

Those not eligible for free HPV vaccine, but who would like to receive the vaccine, can purchase it from most pharmacies and travel clinics and at some sexual health clinics.

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, HPV4 and HPV9 vaccines prevent almost 100% of cases of cancer of the cervix caused by HPV types 16 and 18. HPV9 protects against five additional cancer causing types (HPV 31, 33, 45, 52, 58) which account for about 15% of cervical cancers.The HPV4 and HPV9 vaccines also prevent almost 100% of cases of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. 

In men who have never been infected with HPV, the HPV4 vaccine prevents about 85% of cases of anal cancer caused by HPV types 16 and 18. The vaccine also prevents about 90% 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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