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HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common virus that spreads easily from person to person through skin-to-skin or sexual contact. There are many types of HPV viruses. They can cause warts in the genitals (genital or mucosal HPV), or on the hands or feet (cutaneous or nonmucosal HPV). Some genital HPV types are considered high-risk and may cause cancer.
Your child can get a vaccination to help prevent certain HPV infections that can cause cancer as well as those types that cause genital and anal warts. The vaccine is safe and effective. It is recommended for boys and girls at about 11–12 years of age. Getting the vaccine at this age (before he or she is sexually active) gives your child the best protection from HPV infection through adulthood.
During pregnancy, HPV infection can be passed to the baby. This infection can cause warts to develop in a baby's throat and windpipe.
Young adults can also get the vaccination, even if they are already sexually active and even if they have already been infected with HPV. The vaccination can still help prevent the types of cancer-causing HPV that a person has not been infected with.
The risk of these cancers is lower if your child gets vaccinated before he or she becomes sexually active.
The vaccine also prevents genital warts caused by HPV.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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