What is HPV?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is most common in young women and men and can cause genital warts in men and women, cervical cancer in women, and other types of cancer in both men and women. There are about 100 types of HPV.

What is the HPV Vaccine and who should get it?

The vaccine is recommended for those aged 11-26 years, if they were not already vaccinated.

“While HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as more people have already been exposed to HPV” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective at preventing cervical cancer and genital warts due to HPV. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing four types of HPV in young women who have not been previously exposed to HPV. These four types have been found to be responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The vaccine will not treat existing HPV infections.

People with a cervix who have been vaccinated still need regular cervical cancer screening (Pap test) as recommended by their healthcare provider.

HPV (Gardasil) Vaccine

The HPV (Gardasil) Vaccine is available at Student Health Services for a fee. Students who are interested in getting vaccinated can call 703-993-2135 to schedule an appointment and request Gardasil immunization. A student will meet with a healthcare provider who will answer any questions related to HPV or other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

The vaccine is given in a series of three injections over a six-month period. The second and third doses are given at two and six months after the first dose. The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site. The length of the vaccine protection is not known since it is a new vaccine but studies have found that vaccinated persons are protected for at least five years.


Students with the University Student Health insurance plan can receive the vaccine at Student Health Services at no cost; the insurance covers the cost of the vaccination. Students with other insurance should check with their insurance provider about coverage.