HPV - Is Prevention Possible?


The HPV virus is incredibly common and while HPV treatments do exist, it is far better for people to take steps to reduce their chance of being infected with the virus. Fortunately, there are a number of things that people can do in an effort to reduce the likelihood of being infected with HPV.


Vaccines have been developed to protect both males and females from some of the most common types of HPV. These vaccines are administered over a period of six months and consist of three doses. In order to get the best level of protection possible, it is important that all three doses are taken.

Ideally and to be most effective, these vaccines will be administered before an individual has their first sexual experience as the first sexual contact is when an individual could be exposed to HPV.

Different vaccines exist for females and males:

Girls and women: Cervarix and Gardasil are two vaccines that offer protection for females against the strains of HPV that are known to cause most cervical cancers. Gardasil also presents the benefit of protection against many, but not all, types of genital warts. These vaccines are recommended for girls aged 11 and 12 years (but can be given as young as 9 years) and also for any females aged 13 to 26 years who did not receive any or all of the doses when they were younger. Whenever possible, it is best that females get the same brand of vaccine for all three doses.

Boys and men: Gardasil provides some protection against genital warts for men. It is available to males aged 9 to 26 years of age.


Genital warts are transmitted through sexual activity and so condoms are acknowledged for providing some reduction to the risk of being infected with the HPV virus.

However, it should be noted that genital warts can be spread without penetration occurring – skin to skin contact is enough to contract the infection.

If condoms are used, they are most effective if used from start to finish of every sexual act.


Although it may not always be realistic to do so, the risk of being infected with HPV is lower if the number of sexual partners is limited and partners are selected who have had no or few other sexual partners. While this may lower the risk, it is possible for people who have only ever had one sexual partner in their lifetime to be infected with HPV.

Similarly, as the HPV virus can produce no symptoms, it may be impossible to tell if a sexual partner is infected.

While being in a faithful relationship with one partner usually lowers the risk of getting HPV, the only absolute way to prevent HPV is to completely abstain from sexual activity. Naturally, this is not realistic or desirable for many people.

Some effective HPV treatments have been developed but there is no treatment that is superior to prevention. Although absolute prevention of the HPV virus is unrealistic for most, it is very wise for all sexually active people to take steps to protect themselves as far as possible from being infected with the HPV virus.

With the vast prevalence of the HPV virus and it ranking as one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, it is important that all people, but particularly young people, are educated about this infection and strategies to reduce the likelihood of infection.