Research has led to many advances in our understanding and treatment of HPV infection. For example, two vaccines are now available to help protect against certain types of HPV. Research is also examining how the virus causes precancerous changes in normal cells and how these changes can be avoided.
Researching HPV: An OverviewDoctors and scientists all over are hard at work conducting research on HPV. These research studies are designed to answer important questions and to find out whether new approaches to HPV are safe and effective. Such research has already led to many advances, and researchers continue to search for more effective methods of dealing with HPV.
After many years of testing, two HPV vaccines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Gardasil® (Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus [Types 6, 11, 16, and 18] Recombinant Vaccine) was the first HPV vaccine approved in the United States. It is approved to prevent cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, genital warts, and various precancerous genital lesions caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV for short) in girls and women ages 9 through 26.
Gardasil is also approved to prevent genital warts in boys and men in the same age group. Recently, Gardasil was also approved to prevent anal cancer and precancerous anal lesions in males and females age 9 to 26 years.
The second HPV vaccine approved for use in the United States was Cervarix® (Human Papillomavirus Bivalent [Types 16 and 18] Vaccine, Recombinant). Cervarix is approved for preventing cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions in girls and women age 9 through 25 years of age.
Neither of these HPV vaccines has been proven to provide complete protection against persistent infection with other HPV types, some of which cause cervical cancer. Therefore, about 30 percent of cervical cancer cases and 10 percent of genital warts cases will not be prevented by these vaccines. In addition, the vaccines do not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, nor do they treat HPV infection or cervical cancer.
Because the vaccines will not protect against all infections that cause cervical cancer, it is important for vaccinated women to continue to undergo cervical cancer screening, as is recommended for women who have not been vaccinated.