Immunisation & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

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Immunisation and Vaccines

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

General Information | Surveillance & Epidemiology | Vaccination


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a DNA virus that infects the deepest layer of the skin or genital surfaces (epithelium). HPV infections are very common and over 200 types of HPV have been identified, 40 of which infect the genital tract. The majority of infections resolve within two years with no clinical manifestations. HPV types can be further characterised into high and low-risk types based on their capacity to cause cancer with persistent high-risk HPV infection responsible for 5% of all cancers worldwide and infection with low-risk types leading to cutaneous and genital warts. Transmission of HPV is mainly facilitated through sexual contact with the exception of some low-risk types.

The most common HPV-induced cancer is cervical cancer with HPV 16 and 18 responsible for 70% of cervical cancers worldwide. The remaining 30% of cervical cancers are caused by the other 16 high-risk HPV types (HPV 26, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68, 73 and 82). High-risk HPV infection is also responsible for a subset of vulvar, vaginal, oropharyngeal, anal and penile cancers. Low-risk HPV types 6 and 11 cause the majority of genital warts (90%).

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