[Question #3275] HPV cancerous strain

38 months ago
Hi Dr. Hook/Dr. HHH,

I know that I have been asked not to ask repetitive questions about my last couple exposures :)
I would be thankful if you could provide your advice regarding another issue which came up recently:

I got to know that one of my ex-girlfriend has been diagnosed with a cancerous strain of HPV. I was with her more than 5 years ago and we had unprotected sex multiple times over the course of an year. Assuming that I acquired that HPV strain from her :

1. Could my body have cleared itself of that HPV in the last 5 years? 
2. I understand from your other answers on this forum that the current age limit for vaccinations has been arrived at by assuming that by 26 most people would have acquired HPV.  But does the effectiveness of the vaccine remain the same for older people as well (assuming that they aren't carrying the virus already) ?
3. Also, in approx. how many months since the start of the first shot, does the vaccination start being effective against the cancerous strains? 


38 months ago
Sorry I had another question regarding the vaccine- I read that 'cervarix' and an older version of "gardasil' has been discontinued in the US. I see that both of those are still available in India. Are those vaccines equally effective against the cancerous strains ?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
38 months ago
We discussed whether or not to answer your new quesitons and, because the topic is differrent that your earlier questions, have decided to provide brief answers about the events you describe, even though they occurred long ago.  Your assumption that you acquired her HPV infection is not necessarily true.  Even if you did, only a tiny proportion (1% or less) go in to develop HPV-realated cancer.  In answer to your specific questions:

1.  Nearly all HPV infections spontaneously clear without therapy.  Less than 1% persist.  Even if you acquired infection from her it is most likely that your body has eliminated the infection and that you are not infectious to others.

2.  The recommended age for the HPV vaccine is based on studies in North America and Europe that show that most sexually active persons have acquired HPV by age 26 and since the vaccine is preventative, there is less reason to give it to older persons.  there is no medical reason for persons over age 26 to not take the vaccine- it isjust less effective, yet costly in persons over age 26.

3.   Most recipients are protected from infection  a few weeks after receipt of the 2nd vaccine injection, given 1-2 months after the first.

4.  The Cervarix HPV vaccine contained only HPV types 16 and 18, the two HPV types which cause most cervical cancer in women.  The initial Gardasil vaccine contained 4 HPV types, 16 and 18 like Cevarix but also HPV types 6 and 11, the two HPV types which cause most genital warts.  The current Gardasil vaccine contains 9 different HPV types and therefore prevents a somewhat larger proportion of all HPV infections.

I hope these answers are helpful to you.  EWH

38 months ago
Just the information I needed, thanks a lot Dr. Hook!