Gardasil is used to protect against several different types of cancer; precancerous lesions of the cervix, vagina, or vulva; and genital warts. The medication cannot cure these conditions, but it does prevent infection with specific types of HPV, including types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil has been approved for use in girls and women age 9 to 26; the vaccine is also approved to prevent genital warts and anal cancer in boys and men age 9 to 26.
What Is Gardasil Used For?Gardasil® (Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus [Types 6, 11, 16, and 18] Recombinant Vaccine) is a vaccine that has been licensed to treat conditions caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV for short). Specifically, in girls and women (age 9 to 26), Gardasil is used to protect against the following conditions caused by HPV:
- Cervical cancer
- Vulvar and vaginal cancer
- Anal cancer
- Abnormal or precancerous cervical lesions
- Abnormal or precancerous vaginal lesions
- Abnormal or precancerous vulvar lesions
- Abnormal or precancerous anal lesions
- Genital warts.
For boys and men (age 9 to 26), Gardasil is approved to prevent genital warts, anal cancer, and abnormal or precancerous anal lesions.
What Is HPV?Human papillomavirus is a very common type of virus, infecting over 20 million people in the United States. There are actually over 100 types of HPV. For over 30 types, HPV transmission occurs through sexual contact, making it one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In fact, 50 percent of sexually active people catch HPV during their lifetime.
HPV symptoms will depend on which HPV virus a person is infected with. Some types of HPV cause no symptoms, while others may cause warts (skin-colored growths) on the hands or feet. Other HPV types can cause genital warts or cervical cancer.
Treatment for conditions caused by HPV may include removal of the warts or cancerous cells. However, there is currently no HPV treatment that will prevent the virus from causing problems in the future.
Gardasil is a vaccine that was designed to prevent infection with specific types of HPV. This includes HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. These four types of HPV were chosen because they cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.
Keep in mind that Gardasil is not an HPV cure or treatment. It is used for prevention. However, because a human papillomavirus infection cannot be cured, HPV prevention is very important.