Genital Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is the commonest Viral STI in the UK and the majority of sexually active individuals will have HPV infection at some point in their lives.
There are over 100 strains of HPV and around 40 of them affect the genital regions where they can cause either genital warts (low risk strains) or cancerous and precancerous changes (high risk strains). Persisting high risk HPV infection is associated with cervical cancer in 99% of cases. However, high risk HPV infection has also been directly linked to cancers of the anus, mouth and throat, penis, vulva and vagina.
HPV infection is very common and is transmitted by sexual activity, including oral, anal and vaginal sex. Most people acquire HPV infection when they start sexual activity. Although, condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, it does not fully protect against it.
Most people who have HPV infection are not aware that they have the infection and the infection is cleared by their own immune system.
In some people, the symptoms can manifest many years after they have acquired the initial infection.
- These are fleshy lumps or bumps found around the genital regions. They can be small, raised, multiple, very large and shaped like cauliflowers.
- 90% of genital warts are caused by HPV strains 6 and 11.
- Genital warts are generally harmless and will eventually clear without need for treatment. However, they can become very large and are a source of embarrassment.
- Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 years of age and is responsible for 2% of cancers in women overall. HPV leads to changes in the cells of the cervix causing cancerous changes to occur over many years.
- About 1 out of every 100 women will have precancerous changes on their cervical smears, requiring further treatment and causing a great deal of anxiety (Cancer Research UK data).
- 70% of cervical cancers are due to HPV types 16 and 18.
High risk HPV infection has been directly attributable to:
- Anal cancer in around 80% to 90% of cases, mainly due to strains 16 and 18. The risk is increased in men who have sex with men.
- Around 40% of vulval and vaginal cancer.
- Around 30% of cancers of the mouth and throat
- Around 47% of cancers of the penis.
We can screen for the most important strains of HPV including the high risks strains associated with cancer. This is done via highly accurate DNA testing on a swab and we can discuss with you how to manage positive results, including vaccination, if appropriate.
Participation in Cervical screening programmes is essential as this allows early detection and treatment of precancerous changes to the cervix.
There is no treatment for HPV infection itself. In the majority of individuals, the immune system will clear the virus.
Treatment is used to manage the symptoms of HPV infection.
As HPV is very common and can be acquired from sexual activity, the best method of prevention is with the highly effective vaccination-Gardasil and now Gardasil-9.
New Gardasil 9 Vaccine (9 Valent)
- Gardasil 9 is currently only available privately in the UK.
- The new HPV Vaccine provides immunity to 9 sub-types of HPV including 7 high risk strains. The previous 4 valent version provided coverage against sub-types 6,11, 16 and 18.
- The following 7 High Risk HPV sub-types are contained within the vaccination, HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58, which are found in the majority of HPV associated cancers.
- The vaccine also provides protection against the commonest HPV strains causing warts-strains 6 and 11.
The HPV vaccine is inactivated, which means it cannot cause infection in the vaccinated individual or be transmitted from the vaccinated individual.
The HPV vaccine can be given to both men and women from the age of 9 years, up until age of 27.
(The First dose should be given before your 27th birthday and subsequent doses completed within 12 months of dose 1)
The vaccine works best when given before you have contracted HPV infection.
Your local CityDoc clinician can discuss whether the vaccine is appropriate for you.
£165 per dose.
|Age||Method of Adminstration||Number of doses||Interval between doses||Booster dose requirement?|
|Girls and Boys 9-14 years of age||Intramuscular injection to the deltoid||2 doses||2nd dose administered 6 to 12 months after 1st dose.||Not known|
|Women and Men from 15-45 years of age||Intramuscular injection to the deltoid||3 doses||2nd dose administered 2 months after the first and 3rd dose administered 6 months after the 1st dose||Not known|
For individuals 15-26 years of age:
The 2nd dose can be administered at least 1 month after the 1st dose and the third dose can be given at least 3 months after the 2nd dose.
All three doses must be administered within 1 year of the start date.
The HPV vaccine is used for prevention only and cannot treat existing HPV infection.
Gardasil 9 and Gardasil 4 valent are not interchangeable. Therefore, Gardasil 9 cannot be used to complete courses started with Gardasil 4 valent and vice versa.
You can receive Gardasil 9 if you have previously and the full vaccination course with Gardasil 4 valent vaccine. This has not been shown to be harmful.
The following groups cannot receive the vaccine:
- Anyone under 9 years of age.
- Anyone over 27 years of age (no clinical data on effectiveness or safety).
- Previous history of severe allergic reaction to Gardasil 4 valent vaccine or Gardasil 9.
- Previous history of severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients of the vaccine, including yeast (see FAQ section).
- Acute illness with fever (greater than 38.5 degrees Celsius).
Although the vaccine is inactivated and there is data showing that no foetal abnormalities have occurred from using the vaccine, the data is not sufficient to recommend vaccinating with Gardasil during pregnancy. It is best that vaccination should be postponed until delivery.
There is sufficient evidence from clinical studies showing that the vaccine did not cause any adverse effects in infants who were breast fed during the vaccination course. Thus, the vaccine can be given safely to breast feeding mothers.
Common Side Effects
Gardasil 9 has been shown to be well tolerated in clinical studies and post marketing data.
The common side effects observed included:
- injection site reactions-redness, swelling and pain, nausea, vomiting
Rare side effects seen were loss of consciousness at the time of the vaccine administration.
Interactions with Other Vaccines
Gardasil-9 can be given at the same time as:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, inactivated polio and pertussis
There is no data on administration with other vaccines. If given at the same time as other vaccines, it should be administered in a separate limb.
There is no interaction between Gardasil 9 and hormonal contraception.
Which CityDoc Clinics Provide the New (HPV-9 Valent) Vaccination ?
- Our Flagship Clinics
- Canary Wharf
- Oxford Circus
Our London Clinics
- Greenwich High Street
- New Cross
- South Kensington
Rest UK Clinics
- Bishop Aukland
- Blackpool ( Waterloo Rd)
- Brighton & Hove
- Glasgow GP (St Vincent St)
- Glasgow (West End)
- Leeds (Pudsey)
- Leicester St Stephens
- Muswell Hill
- Newcastle ( Elswick)
- Scunthorpe ( Ashby Rd)
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Can the vaccine be given if I am unwell?
The vaccine can be given in minor illnesses that are not associated with a high fever following assessment by a clinician. However, if you have a fever, it is best to wait until you have recovered to get the vaccine.
2) What does the vaccine contain?
Gardasil 9 contains the following:
- Sodium chloride
- Polysorbate 80
- Sodium borate
- Water for injections
- Aluminium hydroxyphosphate sulphate
The vaccine is produced in yeast cells. Therefore, you should not have the vaccine if you have a severe allergic reaction to yeast.
The vaccine does not contain:
- Thiomersal (mercury)
3) I have had two doses of Gardasil; can I have my third dose with Gardasil 9?
Courses started with Gardasil 4 valent vaccine (containing strains 6, 11, 16 and 18) must be completed with this vaccine.
There is no data to suggest that the vaccines are interchangeable.
Similarly if you start a course with Gardasil 9, it should be competed with this vaccine.
4) If I have already had the full Gardasil course, can I have Gardasil 9?
If you have had a full course of Gardasil (3 doses), then you can choose to have the Gardasil 9 vaccine. This would provide additional protection against a further 5 high risk HPV strains not covered in the original Gardasil vaccine. As the vaccine is inactivated, it is not harmful to do so.
5) Should the vaccine be given to Men?
Men should receive the Gardasil 9 vaccine and can be given the vaccine from 9 years of age until their 27th birthday. The vaccine would provide protection against the commonest causes of genital warts (strains 6 and 11), as well as against high risk strains of HPV associated with oral cancer, anal cancer and cancer of the penis.
In Men who have sex with Men, HPV 16 and 18 are found in 80-90% of cases of anal cancer. Therefore, vaccinating with Gardasil 9 could be life saving.
6) Is it still worth having the vaccination if I am already sexually active?
Ideally the vaccination should be administered prior to sexual activity starting as most people acquire HPV infection quite early on in their sexual life. The vaccine will not treat or clear HPV infection that is already present. However, it will prevent the acquisition of HPV strains that you may not already have. As Gardasil 9 provides protection against 9 strains, it is still beneficial to have the vaccination as it would protect you against strains that you may not have acquired.