HPV Vaccination

Stop Cervical Cancer Before it Starts

HPV Vaccination:

Prevents cervical cancer.

Is safe and effective.

Is highly cost-effective and endorsed by WHO as a “best buy”.

Is recommended for girls age 9-14 for maximum effectiveness.

Is recommended in two doses, six months apart, for girls age 9-14.

Is a key component for ensuring a world without cervical cancer.

HPV Vaccination Overview

HPV infection is very common. Most adults (around 80%) will get an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime. Most never know they are infected, and most infections clear naturally by the body’s immune system and cause no problems. However, some HPV infections do not clear, and these persistent infections can lead to abnormal cell growth that can develop into cancer over time. There is no treatment for HPV infection, so prevention is key.

HPV vaccination protects girls against certain HPV infections that cause cervical cancer and prevents the disease (primary prevention). It is safe and one of our most cost-effective tools against cervical cancer, protecting against at least 70% of all cervical cancer (types 16 and 18) and a portion of five other cancers caused by HPV.

HPV vaccination is best given to girls age 9-14 in two doses, six months apart, as a routine part of the childhood vaccine schedule. Research shows girls age 9-14 have the best immune response to the vaccine, ensuring maximum cervical cancer prevention. The vaccine is also most effective before exposure to the virus. For girls over the age of 15, or those who have weakened immune systems (HIV+, transplant recipients, etc.), WHO recommendation is three doses to be given at 0, 1-2, and 6 months. Country-specific HPV vaccination program guidelines and target age group(s) may differ. Since the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, girls vaccinated against HPV will still require cervical cancer screening as women.

Unfortunately, uptake of the HPV vaccine has been slowed by misinformation and the unequal availability and affordability globally, limiting access for girls living in many developing countries. Globally, only 15% of vaccine age-eligible girls are fully vaccinated against HPV. As a result, the girls most at risk of developing cervical cancer as women have little to no access to this life-saving protection. Fortunately, there are encouraging recent developments that will enable countries to scale-up or introduce the vaccine in coming years. Since the start of GAVI’s support of national HPV programming, 18 of the 27 countries approved for GAVI support have successfully introduced HPV vaccine. Following its historic funding replenishment in June 2020 and vaccine manufacturers’ pledge to provide doses of HPV vaccine for 84 million girls, countries are well-positioned to introduce and/or scale the vaccine in the coming years.

Country-led funding, demand, and normalization, paired with individual and community support, will be crucial in shaping an environment supportive of HPV vaccine as a measure for cervical cancer prevention and to achieve the WHO 2030 target of having at least 90% of girls fully vaccinated by the age of 15.

Action for Elimination

By preventing cervical cancer, the development of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in 2006 has made the vision of cervical cancer elimination achievable. Countries that have implemented national HPV vaccination programs have seen decreases in high-risk HPV types and abnormal cell growth in the cervix that lead to cervical cancer.

HPV Vaccination

These countries are on the path toward achieving cervical cancer elimination. Many countries, however, still lack a national HPV vaccination program. Globally, only 15% of vaccine age-eligible girls are fully vaccinated against HPV—and the girls most at risk of developing cervical cancer as women often have the least access to this life-saving protection. Current levels of HPV vaccination coverage need to be increased to achieve WHO’s cervical cancer elimination targets and ensuring a world without the disease.

The WHO cervical cancer elimination strategy target aims to have 90% of girls fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 15 years of age