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Should Girls Who Aren't Sexually Active Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

I've heard about the HPV vaccine for teenage girls. But I'm not sure my 14-year-old daughter needs it because she's not sexually active. What should I do?
– Lora

The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine actually has the best chance of protecting against infection if the series of shots is given before a person becomes sexually active. Here's what doctors recommend:

  • For kids and teens ages 9–14, the HPV vaccine is given in two shots over a 6- to 12-month period.
  • For teens and young adults ages 15–26, it is given in three shots over a 6-month period.

Some strains of HPV that spread through sexual contact are known to cause cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the penis, anus, mouth, and throat. Recent research suggests that HPV might even be linked to cardiovascular disease in women.

HPV is extremely common, affecting more than half of sexually active people at some point in their lives, often in their teens and twenties.

While a girl may not be sexually active now, she likely will be at some point in her life. Girls may get HPV in their teenage or young adult years, and then develop cancer years later.

It is now recommended that both girls and boys receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine will help to protect both guys and girls from genital warts and HPV-related cancers.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: 31-10-2016