Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV stands for ‘human papillomavirus’, which is a group of more than 100 viruses.

HPV infection is a very common infection. The majority of HPV infections do not cause any symptoms and infections usually clear up on their own.

HPV is spread mainly by skin to skin contact. Genital HPV infections are usually associated with sexual contact.

HPV causes 1 in 20 cancers worldwide. It is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer.

The HPV virus also causes:

  • 5 out of 10 vulval cancers
  • 7 out of 10 vaginal cancers
  • 9 out of 10 HPV-related anal cancers
  • 9 out of 10 incidences of genital warts

HPV vaccination is a very effective way to reduce your risk of:

  • genital warts
  • developing HPV-associated cancer in the future

In Ireland, all students in their first year of secondary school will be offered the HPV vaccine as part of the school vaccination programme.

In July 2018, the National Immunisation Committee (NIAC) recommended the HPV vaccine for people living with HIV up to and including 26 years of age and for all gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM), including gbMSM living with HIV, up to and including 45 years of age.

In October 2022, the National Immunisation Committee (NIAC) updated the recommended number of vaccine doses.

  • For gbMSM under 25 years – a single dose of HPV vaccine is now recommended
  • For gbMSM from the age of 25 (up to and including 45 years) – 2 doses of HPV vaccine are now recommended at 0 and 6-12 months. 

All people living with HIV still require three doses at 0, 2 and 6 months regardless of age.

The vaccine is available through many STI and HIV clinics. Ask a nurse or doctor at your clinic for more information.

More information on the HPV vaccine is available for:

More information on genital warts is available in the Genital Warts patient information leaflet.