What is HPV?

Find out more about the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, and the vaccination you may be offered.

What is Human Papillomavirus?

Human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, is the name given to a family of high and low risk viruses. HPV can cause warts and verrucas in some cases, and in others are linked to the development of cervical cancer, anal cancer, genital cancers, and cancers of the head and neck.

Cervical cancer is a common cancer in women under 35 years of age in Scotland.

HPV is spread by sexual activity, and it affects as many as half the population at some point in their lives. HPV infections do not usually cause any symptoms, and most people will not know they're infected.

What is the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine protects against the two types that cause most cases (over 75%) of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccination is protective for at least 20 years and it prevents genital warts too. 

Who gets the vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is offered to all S1 pupils at schools in Scotland, but it can be given any time from nine years of age upwards. 

Is it just a one off injection?

No, to make sure you get the best protection against HPV you’ll need to have three separate jabs in your arm over 12 months. This might seem like a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it to help reduce your chances of getting cancer. 

Once I've got the jab, is that me covered?

Because some types of HPV aren't protected against, women will still need regular cervical screening tests once they turn 25. You should get a letter from your GP surgery when you're due to get a test. 

Find out more

If you want more info about human papillomavirus, visit the NHS page on the HPV vaccine.