Why Teenage Boys and Girls Need the HPV Vaccine

Posted on: January 1, 2016

Dr. Gigi Chen a medical oncologist in the San Francisco Bay Area

By Dr. Gigi Chen

January is cervical cancer awareness month, so what does that have to do with the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine?

First of all, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US today and can cause health that affect the genital areas, mouth and throat of men and women.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate there are approximately 9,300 men and 17,500 women affected each year by cancers caused from HPV.  Diagnoses we most often seen are oropharyngeal cancer in men and cervical cancer in women.

The HPV vaccine will help protect boys and girls from developing the HPV infection. Specifically, the vaccine will help protect boys from developing genital warts (and other HPV related cancers) and  protects girls from developing cervical cancer and genital warts.  The CDC recommends that the HPV vaccine (series of 3 shots) be given to children between the ages of 11 and 12 years of age, but it may be given beginning at age 9 years, well before becoming sexually active. This recommendation is endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. 

If children are not vaccinated when younger, it is recommended to have “catch up vaccines” for males through age 21 and females through age 26.  It is also important to point out that the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, therefore girls still need to have regular Pap tests.

Most people do not know they are infected with HPV because they never develop symptoms or health problems.  Others learn they have HPV when they develop genital warts or more serious problems.

Medical research and development continue to give us effective advances in disease prevention that help us all.

Dr. Chen is a Medical Oncologist with Diablo Valley Oncology. She sees patients in Walnut Creek, San Ramon and Pleasant Hill and can be reached at 925-677-5041.


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