Let's Talk About Safe Sex

By: RSC Editorial Team

January 5, 2022

What You Need to Know About HPV Vaccines

With human papillomavirus (HPV) as the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S., it’s important to consider giving your pre-teens the HPV vaccine or getting it yourself, if you’re in the appropriate age group. At Rapid STD Testing, we know the importance of getting regular STD tests for early detection and treatment and vaccinations as a form of prevention.

With over 2500 nationwide locations, you can easily order a panel from our website and then head to the closest facility for same-day STD testing. Within one to three days, you’ll have accurate and confidential test results. Call Rapid STD Testing now at (866) 872-1888, or click online to order your testing panel and take charge of your sexual health.

What Is HPV?

Did you know that more than 150 types of HPV exist? In fact, HPV is so prevalent that nearly every person will become infected at some point in their life. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), around 80 million people in the United States have some strain of HPV that causes disease, with 13 million new infections with HPV occurring every year.

HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact, which means sexual contact with another person isn’t necessary for transmission to occur. While most strains are harmless, some types of HPV can cause genital warts or cancer of the throat, cervix, or anus. It’s also possible to have multiple different strains of HPV at once.

HPV is not herpes, although it can cause genital warts. To learn the differences between HPV and herpes, click the link to read our informative blog post on the subject.

HPV Symptoms

More than 40 strains of HPV spread via sexual contact. That group consists of two categories: low-risk HPV and high-risk HPV. While many strains of HPV are asymptomatic, there are a few associated symptoms.

Low-risk HPV causes warts on or around the:

  • Throat
  • Mouth
  • Anus
  • Genitals

High-risk HPV can cause cancer, including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vagina cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Oral/throat cancer

While the most common symptom of low-risk HPV is warts, most types of HPV (including high-risk) don’t show any signs at all. When high-risk HPV does show symptoms, it’s usually because the virus has gone untreated for so long that it has caused serious health problems.

If you experience any of the above symptoms or think you might have been exposed to the virus, please get tested as quickly as possible. You can order a full 10-panel STD test on our website right now and then head to one of our locations for a rapid STD test that will give you the knowledge you need to take care of your sexual health.

When Did the HPV Vaccine Come Out?

We are fortunate enough in today’s advanced technological age to have a vaccine against HPV. But, when was the vaccine first created, and what is the current vaccine?

In the 1970s and 1980s, the first strains of HPV were isolated in cervical cancer tumors by a German virologist named Harald zur Hausen. After he pioneered this research, further discoveries showed that HPV could cause oral, anal, and vulval cancers.

The HPV vaccine development first occurred in Australia at the University of Queensland by professors Jian Zhou and Ian Frazer. The two scientists synthesized “virus-like particles” (VLPs) which mimic HPV, ultimately creating the first vaccine.

While the VLPs contain proteins from the HPV virus, they don’t have any HPV DNA that could cause an infection. Upon injection, the VLPs stimulate the production of antibodies to eliminate HPV.

That’s how the vaccine works: It introduces VLPs into your body, which then produce antibodies to attack them. Then, if the vaccinated person ever has HPV enter their body, it can make the same antibodies to eliminate the infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed three different HPV vaccines:

  • 9-valent HPV vaccine (Gardasil-9)
  • Quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil)
  • Bivalent HPV vaccine (Cervarix)

As of 2016, Gardasil-9 is currently the only HPV vaccine you can receive in the United States. It’s safe for boys and girls and can prevent most of the serious health issues resulting from a high-risk HPV infection, including genital warts and certain cancers:

  • Cervical
  • Vaginal
  • Vulvar
  • Anal
  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Neck
  • Head

HPV Vaccine Age: When Should You Get the Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine age varies, but barring some exceptions, you cannot receive the vaccine at any age. We’ll now explain the important information regarding vaccine schedules, appropriate ages for vaccination, possible side effects, and whether the vaccine is safe (yes!).

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine? Is it Necessary for Males to Get the Vaccine?

Yes, males should get the vaccine. When they do, it prevents them from being infected and unknowingly transmitting the infection to their female sexual partners.

The CDC recommends that girls and boys aged 11 or 12 should be vaccinated, although children as young as nine can receive it as well. In general, you should vaccinate your preteens before they have sexual contact.

The HPV vaccine schedule for 9-14-year-olds is two doses of the Gardasil-9 injection at least six months apart. Remember, only children who have their first dose before age 15 get two doses unless their doctor administered the doses less than five months apart. The vaccine schedule is three doses for older teens and young adults who are 16 through 26 years old.

Additional Considerations

If a person between the ages of 15 and 26 misses one or more of the doses, they need to restart their vaccine schedule to receive full benefits and protection. If you’re older than 27, you may not be eligible for vaccination.

Young women who have already received the vaccine should continue to get pap tests to ensure they stay healthy. In fact, getting regular pap tests is one of the best ways to prevent infection and stay in charge of your sexual health.

Every sexually active adult should get tested for STDs regularly. If you think you may have HPV or another STD, you can order one of our testing panels right here on the Rapid STD Testing website. After taking the test, you’ll have the results in one to three days, after which you can seek medical treatment if your test is positive.

Who Shouldn’t Get the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is not suitable for certain groups of people. For example, if you have a moderate to severe illness or are pregnant, you should not receive the vaccine. In addition, people with yeast, latex, or other severe allergies should consult with their doctor before getting vaccinated.

Also, your doctor may not recommend the vaccine for you if you’re between the ages of 27 and 45. Usually, this is because you’ve most likely already had exposure to the virus, which means that the vaccine won’t be as effective.

In addition, people who have had a severe allergic reaction to a prior dose should not receive any additional doses.

Is the HPV Vaccine Mandatory?

Certain states have an HPV vaccine mandate for children who wish to enroll in public schools. Here are the states that require vaccination and accompanying regulations:

Washington DC: As of January 2009, females entering grade six must receive the HPV vaccination.

Hawaii: As of July 2020, boys and girls entering grade seven or higher must receive the vaccine.

Rhode Island: Between 2015 and 2017, Rhode Island mandated the vaccine for males and females, with one dose for grade seven students, two doses for grade eight, and three doses for grade nine.

Virginia: As of July 2021, students entering grade seven must receive two doses.

The HPV vaccine is highly effective: People who receive Gardasil-9 have protection against infection for at least 12 years, with no evidence of the effectiveness decreasing over time. The vaccine also has reduced the number of teens and young adults who get genital warts by 88%.

HPV Vaccine Side Effects: Do Any Exist?

Like any other vaccine, Gardasil-9 can cause side effects in some people. However, we’d like to emphasize that most people don’t show any adverse signs post-vaccination. When they do occur, it’s mild. Common side effects include:

  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Headache or fatigue
  • Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Nausea

Dizziness and fainting are more common in young children and adolescents. To mitigate the damage from fainting, adolescents who receive the vaccine should lay down during the injection and for 15 minutes afterward.

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?

Yes, the HPV vaccine is entirely safe. Although the only vaccine currently on the market in the U.S. is Gardasil-9, both it and the other two licensed vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) all underwent extensive testing and clinical trials monitored by the FDA to ensure complete safety. In the 15 years since the creation of the HPV vaccine, continued testing and research have definitively shown the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

Gardasil-9 does not cause any type of fertility issues in females. In fact, not getting the vaccine puts women at higher risk for fertility issues than they would have with the vaccine.

Where to Get the HPV Vaccine

 If you want to get the vaccine for HPV, you have several options. First, get a rapid STD test to ensure that you don’t have HPV. Even if you haven’t had any sexual contact, it’s still important to take the test because HPV spreads via skin-to-skin.

For fast and confidential STD testing, you can order a panel from us here at Rapid STD Testing right now on our website. You may even be able to go to an urgent care facility. To learn whether urgent care facilities perform STD testing, click on the link to read our informative blog post on the topic.

To find a location where you can receive the vaccine, contact your state health department. Or ask your primary care physician if they stock and administer Gardasil-9. If they don’t, you can ask for a referral to another doctor who does. In addition, places like school-based health centers, public health clinics, and health departments also administer the vaccine.

Get Tested for HPV Today at Rapid STD Testing

The HPV vaccine was a breakthrough that has helped prevent infections in thousands of women and men. If you want to get the vaccine, speak with your doctor or head to the local health clinic. For accurate and confidential same-day STD testing, call Rapid STD Testing at (866) 872-1888 or click on our website to order your testing panel.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
January 5, 2022

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