HPV stands for "human papilloma virus". More specifically, HPV refers to a family of more than 100 strains of human papillomaviruses.
The HPV strains of greatest medical concern are the 40 types that are transmitted from human to human usually during sexual contact. These viruses affect the genital area, anus, mouth and throat and can cause cervical cancer, head and throat cancer, genital warts, and other diseases.
The viruses that cause cancers are called "high risk" HPV while those that cause genital warts are known as "low risk" HPV because they do not lead to cancer.
HPV is extremely common and is typically transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sex. HPV can be transmitted also by sexual touching. HPV can be transmitted when people consent to sex and when they do not.
It is estimated that about 70% of women and men will be infected with some type of HPV during their lifetime.  For most of these individuals, their bodies will successfully attack and remove the virus. Indeed, they may never know that they were infected. But they can transmit the virus to other people, even if they have no signs of infection.
HPV is often brought into an individual's first sexual relationship by a more experienced partner. For example, a study of a group of 130 HPV negative women found that after entering their first sexual relationship with one male partner, 28% were HPV positive after one year and 50% were HPV positive after three years . It can take several months or years for HPV to cause harm. There is no way to tell which people who have HPV will develop health problems.
Most people infected with HPV will not develop cancer - but HPV can cause cancer in women, men, babies and children.
In women, HPV can cause cervical cancer, among other cancers. The cervix is the end of the uterus that doctors can see when they do a Pap smear. Cancer begins when new cells on the surface of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and when old or damaged cells do not die. The buildup of extra cells forms a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the tumor is malignant, the extra cells break away and invade nearby tissues. They eventually spread through the body, damaging organs and causing death. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 1 in 150 Canadian women will develop cervical cancer and 1 in 423 will die from it. Cervical cancer accounts for about 1% of all female cancer deaths in Canada. More concretely, over 400 Canadian women die annually from cervical cancer. In Alberta, cervical cancer kills approximately 40 women per year.
Other genital, anal and head and throat cancers
Cervical cancer has been the most common HPV-related cancer. However, HPV can cause other cancers in the genital areas of both females and males, including the vulva, vagina, anus and penis. HPV can also cause oral and neck cancers (at the back of the throat).
Warts in the throats of babies and children
HPV can cause recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (or RRP), a rare but very troublesome condition in very young people. RRP can be caused when HPV is transmitted to an infant during birth. Symptoms are warts in the throat, particularly in the larynx (voice box). The growths sometimes block the airway causing troubled breathing or a hoarse voice and may require repeated surgical treatment. In rare cases, RRP infections can become cancerous.
In both children and adults, HPV can cause genital warts that appear as small bumps in the anus and the genital areas of males and females. These warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner, even if the partner has no signs of genital warts. Untreated genital warts may disappear, persist or increase in size or number over time. Treatment of these warts can be difficult, painful and time-consuming. They do not become cancerous but can cause extreme physical and emotional discomfort or embarrassment that can affect the development of future intimate relationships.
Children who have been sexually abused can contract HPV from the abuser and can later develop HPV-related cancers and genital warts.
Total abstinence from all sexual activity (including sexual touching) prevents sexually transmitted infections, including HPV. Limiting the number of sexual partners reduces the chance of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HPV. Upon becoming sexual active, young people are at risk even in monogamous relationships or marriage because of the partner’s previous sexual contacts.
Condoms lower the risk of HPV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases but they must be used correctly with every sex act (from start to finish). As well, because HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom (such as the vaginal area, scrotum or the throat), they do not fully protect against HPV. 
In recent years, two HPV vaccines have been developed. They provide protection to young people who do not practice total abstinence or who are sexually abused. Vaccines also provide protection when HPV is transmitted in spite of the use of condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners. The vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies that prevent invading viruses from infecting the cells in the genital area, anus and throat. The vaccines address what one commentator has called "an avoidable epidemic".
One of the HPV vaccines is known as Cervarix and is produced by GlaxoSmithKline. It protects against the two high-risk viruses (types 16 and 18) that cause 70% of all cervical cancers in Canada. In Canada, it has been approved for girls and women aged 9 to 25 years since February 2010. The vaccine requires 3 doses over the course of 6 months (0, 1 and 6 months). It has not yet been approved for boys and men, even though they can carry and transmit virus types 16 and 18 to their partners
The other vaccine is called Gardasil and was developed by Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. It is a quadrivalent HPV vaccine, meaning it is effective against four virus types. These are high-risk types 16 and 18 that cause cervical cancers and low risk types 6 and 11 that cause 90% of the cases of genital warts. Health Canada has approved it for use for females aged 9 to 45 years and for males aged 9 to 26 years.
Gardasil is administered in three separate doses on a suggested 0, 2 and 6 month schedule. Some young people become sexually active at an early age and are at high risk of becoming infected with their first sexual partner. For this reason, it is recommended that they be immunized at the age of 11 or 12 years to maximize protection against all 4 viruses. This quadrivalent vaccine will prevent most cases of cervical, anal, vaginal, vulva, and penile cancers and as well as genital warts. Gardasil does not eliminate existing HPV infections. However, vaccinating those who are already sexually active will protect them against any of the 4 HPV types that they have not contracted.
Under the Alberta HPV Immunization Program, Gardasil has been offered without charge to all Grade 5 girls since September 2008. This public health program does not currently provide free immunization for boys.
In May 2012, the Calgary Herald reported that an advisory committee will be reporting in a few weeks to Dr. Andre Corriveau, the Alberta Medical Officer of Health. Following the committee report, Dr. Corriveau might recommend to the Minister of Health that HPV vaccine be offered free to boys in Alberta, too. 
Yes. The vaccine is safe.
In January 2011, a systematic review of seven studies involving over 44,000 young women was published in the on-line journal called BMC Infectious Diseases.  In the studies, the young women who had received the vaccine kept daily vaccination journals and recorded their symptoms within 15-30 days of injection. The investigators also asked them specific questions about their health. There was no statistically significant difference between serious adverse events among the girls who got the HPV vaccine and those who were injected with placebo.
Some young women reported headache, fever and fainting but these symptoms occurred equally among those receiving the vaccine and those receiving the placebo. (Young women sometimes faint from needles, not from any hidden toxin in the vaccine. The risk of head injuries from fainting and falling can be prevented by resting quietly for 15 minutes after receiving any injection). The risk of serious adverse effects was also the same in both groups. Some women reported temporary soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site.
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are very rare, occurring at an annual rate of about 1 per 1,000,000 doses of vaccine distributed in Canada. Public health nurses administer vaccines; they can identify and initiate treatment for severe allergic reaction.
The vaccines cannot infect anyone with HPV because they contain only virus-like particles that stimulate immunity. The particles do not contain the DNA of the virus. The vaccines do not contain any antibiotics, mercury or thimerosal.
Before Gardasil was licensed for Canadian use in July 2006, it had undergone clinical trials for several years. Lengthy trials were also conducted on Cervarix before its approval in February 2010. The vaccines are now in use in over 100 countries around the world including the United States and Australia.
Once a vaccine is approved for use in Canada, every lot is tested for safety and quality. In addition, side effects are continuously monitored in Alberta and subsequently reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia (CDC) co-sponsor the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The system records medical problems that occur after individuals are vaccinated. In this way, any rare side effects that might not have been evident during clinical trials can be detected.
Anyone can report a medical problem that has occurred sometime after a vaccination. To date, there are several reports of problems after HPV vaccination, but these events could have been coincidental. (Some people have won the lottery after being vaccinated.) Researchers have been unable to establish that the vaccine has caused serious medical events. They have found that these problems are linked to other treatments or preexisting medical conditions. , 
Yes. The vaccine is effective.
Studies cited by the National Cancer Institute in the United States in December 2011 show that the vaccine provides protection against high risk virus types 16 and 18 for up to 8 years, which is the maximum time for which research data is available.  More will be known about the total duration of protection as research continues. The vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that prevent invading viruses from infecting the cells in the genital area, anus and throat.
Before the HPV vaccine was readily available, the best defense against cervical cancer was the early detection that regular Pap tests provided for all women that have been sexually active. Regular Pap tests are still recommended for all women who have been sexually active even if they have received HPV vaccine. This is because the vaccine does not protect against all HPV infections that cause cervical cancers. Also, the vaccine provides no protection from HPV infections that occurred before it was administered.
9. Does administration of the vaccine to a young person encourage the child to engage in sexual activity?
Health scientists have looked for evidence that the administration of the vaccine causes a change in the risk-taking behavior of the person who received the vaccine. There is no evidence of any change in behaviour. It is false to state that the administration of a vaccine in school or elsewhere causes children and young people to change their behaviour to become more or less sexually activity.
As well, in regions where condoms are readily available to young people, sexual activity is no higher than in areas where condoms are more difficult to obtain. For this reason, there is no reason to believe that HPV vaccination will increase sexual behavior in adolescents. Research has shown that good sexual health education programs are very effective in delaying sexual debut and reducing the number of sexual partners.
The vaccine is endorsed by many agencies such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, The Canadian Immunization Committee , Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Canadian Pediatric Society, the Canadian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Beyond Canada, the vaccine has been endorsed by the United States Center for Diseases Control and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Yes. In a report dated January 2012, The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended the quadrivalent (Gardasil) vaccine for boys. .
Males can suffer from HPV-related cancers such as anal, penile, mouth and throat cancers. Canadian health experts have recommended public funding for HPV vaccine for boys, as has a Calgary woman, Susan Morgan, whose husband, Shawn, was diagnosed with late stage mouth and throat cancer.
At the moment, there is no public funding for free vaccination of boys in Alberta but Alberta Health Services public health nurses will vaccinate your son for a charge.
To vaccinate a boy or young man, please contact the nearest Public Health Centre or Community Health Centre. To locate a Health Centre in your community, please visit the Inform Alberta website12 via this link. Search using the term Community health Services" and your postal code and/or town or city.
Alberta Health Services provides the vaccine in the community free of charge to Grade 5 girls as part of the school immunization program. 
Grade 5 girls who have not received the vaccine in school are eligible to receive it for free by contacting the nearest Public Health Centre or Community Health Centre. To locate a Health Centre in your community, visit the Inform Alberta website via this link. Search using the term "Community Health Services" and your postal code and/or your town or city
One important event occurred on September 24, 2008, when the Calgary Catholic School Trustees, who are publicly elected decided to ban public health nurses from administering the HPV vaccine in the schools under their authority and which are supported by public funding. Trustees in the Catholic school system in Edmonton did not obstruct public health nurses.
Two demographically similar populations (girls in Catholic schools in Calgary and Edmonton) have different access to the same preventative health care, making it is possible to compare the result.
In Edmonton Catholic Schools, approximately 70% of eligible girls received the vaccine whereas only 18.9% of eligible Calgary girls received the vaccine outside the schools. Arguably, girls in Calgary Catholic schools are not receiving equal benefit of the law that provides free vaccination when compared to girls in Edmonton Catholic schools. Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.
Therefore all children in Calgary should have easy access to a vaccine that might prevent serious illness and early death from cancer.
Mexico: 5th-grade girls get HPV vaccine
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click link below to read
the full article.
Study shows HPV vaccine successful against genital warts
Examiner, Apr 19, 2013:
P.E.I. boys offered HPV vaccine
CBC News, Apr 19, 2013:
 Public Health Agency of Canada (Human Papillomavirus HPV)
 Journal of Infectious Diseases, Winer et.al. 2008:
 Calgary Herald, May 7, 2010
 BMC Infectious Diseases, Lu et.al. 2011:
Efficacy and Safety of Prophylactic Vaccines against Cervical HPV Infection and Diseases among Women: A Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis
 Center for Disease Control, VAERS
 National Cancer Institute, Fact Sheet on HPV Vaccines
 Public Health Agency of Canada (Human Papillomavirus HPV)
 Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization
 Government of Alberta, Health and Wellness:
 Inform Alberta.ca