HPV is a common infection that doesn’t cause any health problems in most people. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts and cancer. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The virus has also been linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat.
The HPV vaccine used in the US since 2016 protects against 6 cancer-causing types of HPV and 2 types that cause most genital warts. The 6 types cause about 90% of HPV cancers.
The vaccines work best if they are given before an infection occurs. This is why it’s recommended for girls and boys ages 11 to 12 – because the vaccines produce the strongest immune response at this age. This is also an age when children still will be seeing their doctor regularly and getting other vaccinations.