[Question #3715] incubation time?

34 months ago
Does an HPV infection take time to happen, or can you expect it to happen pretty quickly after sex- people say it's like a cold? Would it be worth it to get the vaccine after a potential risk and can I prevent hpv from happening from that sexual encounter? I'm early 20's and it's recommended up to age 26 I think... 

Thanks,
-T
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your succinct question and your confidence in our services.

It typically takes several weeks and up to 6 months -- sometimes even a year or more -- for a new HPV infection to become apparent with visible warts, or to be detectable by lab test. Definitely very different than for common colds or even some STDs (e.g. gonorrhea and herpes can become apparent within 2-3 days).

HPV vaccination after exposure has no effect at all -- no prevention effectiveness. It take several weeks for the immune system to respond to the vaccine and start to be protective. In fact, there is little protection at all from the first vaccine dose, only a few weeks after receiving the second dose.

HPV immunization is recommended for everyone up to age 26. Ideally it should done at age 11-12, i.e. before starting sex and potential exposure to HPV. However, up to 26 most sexually active persons remain susceptible to some of the 9 HPV types covered by the vaccine. So I definitely recommend you go ahead with vaccination. It won't protect you against any infections or exposure prior to the second dose, but it definitely will reduce your risk of someday having genital warts and various cancers (penile, anal, throat).

I hope these comments have met your expectations. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

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34 months ago
After 26 people don’t get HPV? Also, the cancer causing ones, hpv-16 seems to be the most talked about seem very common? I read another recent thread and Dr Hook (maybe?) said that over 1/3 of people who have been infected with hpv either have it or have had it? So the vaccine would protect against that one if I have already had it? 
34 months ago
Sorry, in reference to people who have hpv, a 1/3 of people have or have had hpv-16...
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
New HPV infections certainly can occur beyond age 26, but less and less frequent with rising age. That's why the initial research with the vaccine didn't even study anyone beyond age 26, and many (most?) health insurance policies won't pay for HPV immunization after that age. However, the vaccine is effective beyond that age is is sometimes recommended, depending on the estimated risk of future infection in any particular patient.

I'm not familiar with that particular statistic. However, type 16 is among the most common of all HPV types, so I would guess that's about right:  i.e. around one third of all adults have (or have had) HPV16 infection by age 25-30. But as I said above, the vaccine has no effect on previously acquired HPV infections. Anyone who has had HPV16 will not be protected by immunization.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
New HPV infections certainly can occur beyond age 26, but less and less frequent with rising age. That's why the initial research with the vaccine didn't even study anyone beyond age 26, and many (most?) health insurance policies won't pay for HPV immunization after that age. However, the vaccine is effective beyond that age and is sometimes recommended, depending on the estimated risk of future infection in any particular patient.

I'm not familiar with that particular statistic. However, type 16 is among the most common of all HPV types, so I would guess that's about right:  i.e. around one third of all adults have (or have had) HPV16 infection by age 25-30. But as I said above, the vaccine has no effect on previously acquired HPV infections. Anyone who has had HPV16 will not be protected against it by immunization. (But of course they will be protected against any of the other 8 types covered by the vaccine, as long as they haven't previously been infected with those types.)
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34 months ago
That makes sense, I’ll def move forward with the vaccine, you’ve been most helpful. Im curious- Reduced infections is because of already built up immunity? Or immune systems mature as we get older? Is it assumed the immunity to previous infections  lasts forever then? (Or at least a long time) 
34 months ago
If I have already been infected and built up immunity, I don’t need to worry about it again?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
34 months ago
The reasons for reduced infection rate after the mid-20s isn't fully understood. But probably there are two main factors. First, by that time many persons are evolving toward a less risky lifestyle, i.e. monogamy and commitment, hence fewer potential exposures. (Even singles tend to be more conservative sexually. Think of how many people behave in their teens and early 20s compared with late 20s and 30s, even if still single.) Second, many people have already been exposed and infected by their mid 20s, and natural infection (as well as immunization) makes people immune to new infections with the types they've already had.

Which also answer your last question. True, you don't need to worry about new infections with types you've already had.

That completes the two follow-up comments and replies included with each question and so ends this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful. Best wishes and stay safe!
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