Genital warts? Cervical cancer? We’ve got an HPV vaccine for that!

In fact there are three vaccines all of which target the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause health problems such as genital warts and cancer. So which is the best?

The three vaccines were developed at different times and target different strains of the HPV virus.

  • Cervarix – protects against types 16 and 18
  • Gardasil – protects against types 6, 11, 16, and 18
  • Gardasil 9 – protects against types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58

Here’s the breakdown on the HPV types:

  • 6 and 11 – not cancer causing, but are responsible for 90% of genital warts
  • 16 and 18 – cancer causing responsible for 70% or cervical cancel, 50-60% of mouth/throat cancer, and 80% of anal cancer in the US
  • 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 – cancer causing responsible for 15% or cervical cancer, 4-9% of oro-pharyngeal cancer and 4-11% of anal cancer in the UA

Gardasil 9 was approved by the FDA in December 2014 and is licensed for use in females age 9-25 and males 9-15.  It is also licensed for immunocompromised persons and for men who have sex with men through age 26.

Current recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) ACIP include:

  • Females:
    • Vaccination for those aged 9-26
    • All three types of the vaccine can be used
  • Males:
    • Vaccination for those aged 9-21, but new data is suggesting it should be available for those aged 16-26
    • Recommended for those who have sex with men and immunocompromised men through age 26
    • Gardasil and Gardasil 9 can be used
  • All:
    • Dosage schedule includes 3 doses, with the second dose 1-2 months after the first and the third dose 4 months after the 2nd and 6 months after the first
    • If the dosage schedule is interrupted, the series does not have to be restarted
    • If you do restart and are unsure which vaccine you received, you can use the new vaccine safely

Ryo Choi-Pearson, M. D.