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Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by long-lasting infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) called “high risk” HPVs (1).

On top of cervical cancer, you can develop oral, anal and other genital cancers from a high risk HPVs infection (2). Most HPV cancers are not common in males, but they can get infected and can spread the virus to others.

Fortunately for us, HPV vaccination can prevent most cancers produced by HPVs, including cervical cancer (2,3). For optimal protection, HPV vaccines should be offered to anyone 9 years old and older, before they become sexually active (4,5,6). That is because HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (1,5). But, you don’t have to have sex to get HPV, it can be passed via intimate skin-to-skin contact too (7).

If fully immunized before becoming sexually active, the risk of developing HPV cancers or precancerous lesions is reduced by more than 90% (2,3)!

The HPV vaccine was first approved in 2006, both in Canada and the U.S., and some studies are already starting to see its positive impacts on young adults (1,8). Cervical cancer incidence alone went from being reduced by 33% to 65% reduction with the first cohort to receive the HPV vaccine in the U.S. (1). Thanks to herd immunity, there was a significant decline in unvaccinated individuals too (1).

In Canada, HPV vaccination became part of the school-based immunization programme in 2017 (3). So it might take a couple more years before we start seeing the full extent of the vaccine’s positive impact.

Because vaccines can’t prevent all HPV-related cancers, it is very important that everyone keep up with their regular screenings and practice safe sex (4). Early detection, along with diagnosis, treatment and research are all crucial to eliminate cervical cancer (9,10).

Share this good news to remind everyone the importance of HPV vaccination and screening.


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