HPV: Human Papillomavirus

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is estimated that in the United States 6.2 million people become infected each year. HPV infects up to 80% of sexually active people by the time they turn 50. The HCH Clinicians’ Network Pediatrics Work Group compiled these resources.

HPV infection is associated with the development of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Screening through routine Pap smears and treatment of abnormal Paps have resulted in the substantial decrease of cervical cancers, however, racial and ethnic disparities remain.[1] The incidence of cervical cancer in African-American women is 1.5 times higher than in white women. The incidence of cervical cancer in Hispanic, Vietnamese and Korean women is higher than in white women.[2] Worldwide, 260,000 deaths occur every year as a result of cervical cancer.

A different approach to managing HPV is to prevent the infection from occurring. The Gardasil® vaccine, which is most effective when administered before a person becomes sexually active, targets HPV types most likely to cause cervical cancers and genital warts (types 6, 11, 16, 18). More than 70% of cervical cancers are caused by types 16 and 18, and approximately 95% of genital warts are caused by types 6 and 11.

HPV vaccinations can be administered to girls as young as 9 years of age. The Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that girls are vaccinated at 11 to 12 years of age. A catch-up vaccination is recommended for teens and women aged 13 to 26 years who were not previously vaccinated.

Cost & Paying for the HPV Vaccine

According to the CDC, the retail price of the vaccine is about $125 per dose ($375 for full series). Children age 18 and younger may be eligible to get vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, for free through the Vaccines for Children program if they are: Medicaid eligible; uninsured; or American Indian or Alaska Native. Children who are eligible for VFC vaccines are entitled to receive pediatric vaccines that are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Some states also provide free or low-cost vaccines at public health department clinics or other public health agencies to people without health insurance coverage for vaccines.

Education & Prevention Resources


Future Policy/What’s New


  1. Cox, Martin, Mahoney, et al. ACS Releases Guidelines for HPV Vaccination. American Family Physician. 2008, 77(6).
  2. Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (2007). The HPV Vaccine: Background, Coverage & Benefits.