Vaccination against cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is a common virus that affects skin and mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and genital area. There are about 100 different types of HPV; most are harmless but some types can cause genital warts and cancers. As many as 8 in 10 people will be infected with HPV at some time in their lives, but most will never know they have it. HPV can be caught and spread by both men and women through sex.
From September 2019, all boys and girls aged 12-13 will be offered the HPV vaccine at school. Anyone who misses the vaccination at school can have it for free on the NHS until their 25th birthday. Men who have sex with men (MSM) can also have the vaccine up to and including the age of 45. Adults of any age can have the vaccine, although most sexually active adults will already have been exposed to HPV. All women in the UK are tested for HPV infection as part of the cervical screening programme.
The vaccine is effective at stopping people getting the high-risk types of HPV that cause cancer. The vaccine can protect against cervical cancer and some anal, genital, mouth and throat cancers.