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HPV Vaccine and Screening

Our commitment to the well-being of our South Texas community includes lowering the risk of cancers due to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Doctors and researchers from Mays Cancers Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, are taking extra steps to help more adults and children learn about the benefits of the HPV vaccine and screenings.

What you need to know about HPV

How the HPV vaccine can help you and when to get it

Gardasil 9 is an HPV vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the U.S. Gardasil can reduce the risk for cancers caused by HPV, including anal, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. In 2020, the FDA also approved Gardasil to prevent head and neck cancers. More than 90% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.

Lifelong protection from HPV and associated cancers requires receiving a series of shots. People have better protection when they get the full series before being exposed to the virus. Getting vaccinated before becoming sexually active provides the best protection.

HPV vaccine recommendations

HPV vaccination takes two or more doses of Gardasil, based on age and the length of time between doses:

  • Adolescents: Boys and girls should receive their first dose around 11 or 12 years old and an additional dose before turning 15. People who receive the first dose after age 15 may need three doses for effective protection.
  • Adults: People between 27 and 45 years old who did not receive all the necessary rounds of HPV vaccine, may still be eligible to complete the series. Talk with a primary care physician to find out what’s best.  

HPV screening and testing

We use the Pap test (for cervical cancer) and HPV test as screening tools. These tests can detect HPV by examining cervical cells. The American Cancer Society recommends these screening tests for people ages 25-65.   

How we’re raising HPV awareness and vaccine rates in South Texas

Our doctors and researchers are making it easy for people to get access to the HPV vaccine with efforts focusing on:

  • Cancer survivors: The HPV vaccine may help lower the risk of new cancers in people who have completed cancer treatment. Find out more about life after cancer.
  • Rural communities: Our researchers work with health clinics in rural areas to educate patients and providers about HPV and the vaccine. Read more about our Community Outreach and Engagement Program.
  • Primary care: UT Health San Antonio primary care physicians frequently talk to their patients about the benefits of getting the HPV vaccine.