You can’t protect yourself against everything. But you can get yourself vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus which can cause many different types of cancer.

What is HPV?

What is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus which usually has no symptoms. People probably won’t even know they are carrying the virus and in most people HPV clears up quickly.

Carrying HPV makes you more likely to develop certain types of cancer. It also means you can pass HPV on to others.

HPV is usually spread through intimate sexual contact. Condoms don’t provide complete protection. Getting the vaccine between the ages of 11–13 protects you against future risks.

There may not be immediate symptoms but HPV can lead to cancers such as:

  • head and neck cancers
  • cervical cancer (in females)
  • anogenital cancers (e.g. anal and penile (penis) cancer, cancer of the vagina and vulva)

Head and neck cancers are most common in males, and around 1,250 people are diagnosed each year in Scotland.

 

After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the most common women’s cancer in the world and kills around 100 women every year in Scotland.

The HPV vaccine also protects you against over 90% of genital wart infections as well as those cancer risks.

Find out more

 

Get protected against cancers caused by HPV

Who can get protected?

Who can get protected?

The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls in Scotland since 2008.

This has reduced cancer-causing HPV in young women in Scotland by 90%. Now the vaccine is being offered to boys as well.

From school year 2019-20, every S1 pupil, regardless of gender, can get the HPV vaccine for free.

 

If the spread of HPV can be reduced even further, everyone’s risk of HPV-related cancers in later life will fall.

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The vaccine

The vaccine

The Gardasil HPV vaccine is routinely used in Scotland and is safe for everybody. The vaccine has been given safely to over 80 million people in 84 countries. It meets the high safety standards needed for it to be used in the UK.

The HPV vaccine is normally given as a series of two injections into the upper arm.

Pupils who get their first vaccination dose over the age of 15 will need to have three injections.

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Extra info for girls

Extra info for girls

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and HPV is the main cause.

The HPV vaccine doesn’t protect you against all other types of HPV that cause cancer, so you’ll still need to start going for regular cervical screening (smear tests) when you reach 25 years of age.

You'll receive information about cervical screening when you’re older.

HPV immunisation between the ages of 11 and 13, followed by regular cervical screening when you reach 25, offers the best possible protection against cervical cancer.

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Campaign resources

Campaign resources

To help promote the HPV vaccine to eligible young people, a range of resources have been developed to support the national campaign.

Social media

HPV social media image: (png, 750Kb)

Find out more about HPV and the HPV vaccine from this video, and help support the campaign by sharing it on social media.

 

Immunisation leaflet, audio and BSL

NHS Health Scotland have produced a leaflet explaining the HPV vaccination in Scotland, why it's offered and when it's given.

This leaflet's also available in Easy Read English and other languages - including Polish, Mandarin (Simplified Chinese) and Arabic.

A guide to the HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine audio leaflet

HPV vaccine BSL leaflet