What You Need to Know About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
What Is HPV?
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), in Canada and around the world. At least 70% of sexually active women and men will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime, and approximately 3 to 9 million Canadians are infected with HPV.
Cervical cancer is almost exclusively caused by HPV. In Canada, about 1,500 women are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer, and 400 die annually from this type of cancer.
How is HPV Transmitted?
HPV infection occurs when the virus enters your body through a cut, abrasion or small tear in the outer layer of your skin. The HPV virus can infect anyone who has ever had a sexual encounter, even without penetration.
The most common transmission is by skin-to-skin contact with the penis, scrotum, vagina, vulva, or anus of an infected person. Kissing or touching a partner’s genitals with the mouth can also transmit the HPV virus.
In rare cases, a mother with an HPV infection may transmit the virus to her infant during delivery. This exposure may cause HPV infection in the baby’s genitals or upper respiratory system.
Is HPV Preventable?
HPV infection is preventable, and all Appletree clinics carry the HPV vaccine. The Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada recommends universal vaccination in Canada.
How Many Shots Are Needed?
HPV prevention consists of a series of 3 shots. Depending on the vaccine chosen, the schedule is either 0, 1 and 6 months, or 0, 2 and 6 months. You will be booked an appointment to receive your second and third dose, so that you receive reminders to come in to complete the vaccination series.
What to Expect During Your Appointment
The physician will discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine with you. The vaccine will be administered and you will be asked to wait in the clinic for 15 minutes before leaving, to ensure that no adverse reaction occurs. Payment for the vaccine will be made each time the vaccine is administered.
After Your Appointment
Book your appointment(s) for your two follow up vaccines, to complete the series. Sign up for your secure Patient Portal so that you can access your Vaccination Record, and manage your future appointments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a referral?
No. If you are interested in being vaccinated against HPV, no referral is necessary. Come in to any Appletree Medical Centres to discuss the HPV vaccine with the physician.
Are HPV Vaccines safe?
Yes, hundreds of millions of doses of HPV vaccines have been administered to patients around the world, and many large studies have shown that the vaccine is both safe and effective. Minor reactions such as redness or swelling at the injection site, soreness in the arm, and mild headaches and fever have been known to occur. If you have concerns, discuss them with your doctor.
Serious side effects can occur in very rare cases, however, the benefits to receiving the vaccine far outweigh the risks of serious side effects.
Do women still need Pap tests if they have been vaccinated?
Yes, all women over the age of 21 who are sexually active should receive a screening Pap test every three years.
Is the vaccine covered by my provincial health insurance?
HPV vaccination is provided by Public Health to school age children in Grade 7. For those in their late teens and adulthood, the vaccine is not publicly funded. An itemized receipt will be provided at the time of purchase that can be submitted to your private health insurance plan for reimbursement.
How much does the vaccine cost?
Gardasil 9 – $195/dose
Cervarix – $130/dose