By the way, doctor: Should I get the HPV vaccine if I'm already infected?

Q. I'm 26 and positive for HPV. Is there any point in my getting the new HPV vaccine?

A. There are 30 to 40 strains of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine Gardasil targets the four strains most closely linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. For women not already infected with these strains, Gardasil is almost 100% effective at preventing genital warts and cancerous or precancerous lesions of the cervix. That's why public health officials recommend that girls ages 11 to 12 be vaccinated — before they become sexually active.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »