HPV Vaccinations & Cancer Prevention

HPV Vaccinations & Cancer Prevention

What your parents may have missed
when they gave you "the talk"


If you  would like a referral to an LGBTQ-affirming clinician to get an HPV Vaccination and cervical cancer screenings contact our health team at [email protected]

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread through skin-to-skin contact, sharing of sex toys, or via anal, vaginal, and oral sex [1]. Someone with HPV may not know they are infected for years. Some strains of HPV may result in symptoms such as warts, usually in the genital area [2]. HPV can also cause multiple types of cancer, most commonly cervical and anal cancers [3].Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV once infected, so prevention is important [4].

You can protect yourself by using these proactive measures in order to prevent contracting HPV: 

  1. Wear condoms correctly and use dental dams while engaging in sexual activities[5]. While condom use is effective lowering the risk, genital areas not covered by the condoms can also be infected [6].
  2. Starting at the age of 21, anyone with a cervix should get a pap smear every three years. A pap smear is a test that collects cells from your cervix to test for cervical cancer [7]. If your pap smear test results are abnormal, your doctor may order additional tests [8]. For those engaging in anal sex regularly, you may want to talk to your doctor about an anal pap test [9].
  3. Individuals of all genders should get the HPV vaccine. Children 9-14 years old can get the HPV vaccine in two doses, 6-12 months apart. People ages 15-26 can get the HPV vaccine in a series of three shots that they will need to receive within a span of six months. Adults 27-45 years older should talk to their healthcare provider about their risk of getting HPV, as the vaccine is less effective after age 26 [10].

Anyone with a cervix can get cervical cancer. 
Long-term infection with certain types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer [11].  Other risk factors for cervical cancer include HIV infection, weakened immune system, tobacco smoking, family history of cervical cancer, sexual history, and being immunocompromised. Make sure you receive a regular pap smear test, at your OB/GYN’s office or a clinic. Early detection often allows more treatment options [12]. 

How does this affect the LGBTQ+ Community?
According to the 2022 LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment, 48.7% of respondents reported not having received the HPV vaccination. LGBTQ+ people may not be vaccinated from HPV for a multitude of reasons, including negative reactions from healthcare providers about their LGBTQ+ identity or physicians not understanding  LGBTQ+ specific health-related issues.

13% of respondents have never had a cervical pap test. 9% of cisgender respondents and 19.1% of transgender and nonbinary respondents never had a cervical pap test.

Developed resources reported in this project are supported by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


1.CDC. Genital HPV Infection – Basic Fact Sheet. [accessed January 12, 2023] https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm 

2. Cleveland Clinic. HPV.[accessed January 18, 2023]. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11901-hpv-human-papilloma-virus

3.CDC. Basic Information about HPV and Cancer. [ accessed January 13, 2023] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/

4. Planned Parenthood.Human Papillomavirus (HPV). [accessed January 18, 2023] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex

5. CDC.  HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer [accessed January 12, 2023] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/hpv_oropharyngeal.htm

6. CDC. What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Cervical Cancer? [accessed January 12, 2023]. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info

 7. Mayo Clinic. Pap Smear [accessed January 10, 2023]. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pap-smear/about/pac-20394841

 8.  Planned Parenthood. What is a colposcopy? [accessed January 18, 2023] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/cancer/cervical-cancer/what-colposcopy

9. Planned Parenthood. How can I prevent HPV-related cancers? [January 10, 2023]. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/cancer/hpv-related-cancers/how-can-i-prevent-hpv-relatedcancers

10.  CDC. HPV Vaccine [accessed January 10, 2023]. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine-for-hpv.html

11. CDC. Basic Information About Cervical Cancer. [accessed January 18, 2023]. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/index.htm

 12.  American Cancer Society. Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer. [accessed January 18, 2023]. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html


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