HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

HPV vaccine program for grade 6 boys now available in B.C.

Journal of Family Practice Oncology

HPV: Our Family's Story

Audra and her aunt Laura are strong believers in the HPV vaccine, for good reason: Gisel, Audra's mother and Laura's older sister, died from cervical cancer at only 38. 

The disease

  • HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Three out of four sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives.
  • Anyone who has any kind of sexual activity with another person involving oral, genital, or anal contact can get HPV.
  • Sexual intercourse is not necessary to get infected.
  • The more sexual partners you have, the higher the risk of being infected with HPV.
  • Men who have sex with men are also at higher risk of HPV infection.
  • Most people infected with HPV do not show any signs or symptoms and can pass the virus onto others without even knowing it.
  • Most often an HPV infection will clear on its own. For some people, HPV will not go away and cells infected with the virus can become cancerous over time.

The vaccines

  • There are two HPV vaccines available in Canada: Cervarix® (HPV2) and Gardasil®9 (HPV9). 
  • Both vaccines protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 70% of cases of cervical cancer and 80% of cases of anal cancer. The HPV9 vaccine protects against 5 additional types of HPV that cause 15% to 20% of cervical cancers and 11% of anal cancers in women and 4% in men.

  • The HPV9 vaccine also protects against 2 types of HPV that cause about 90% of cases of genital warts. 

  • Both of these vaccines are approved by Health Canada. The HPV9 vaccine is approved for use in both men and women. The HPV2 vaccine is only approved for use in women.

HPV9 vaccine

The HPV9 vaccine is provided free to girls and boys in Grade 6.  

The HPV9 vaccine is also provided free to:

  • Girls born in 1994 or later who were not immunized in the school-based program, or did not complete their vaccine series (these individuals are eligible up to 26 years of age) 
  • HIV positive individuals 9-26 years of age 
  • Transgender individuals 9-26 years of age
  • Men 9 to 26 years of age who:
    • have sex with other men
    • are not yet sexually active but are questioning their sexual orientation
    • Street involved
  • Boys 9 to 18 years of age in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) 
  • Boys and men of any age who are in youth custody services centres

The HPV9 vaccine is also recommended, but not provided free (unless mentioned above), for:

  • Adult women up to 45 years of age
  • Boys and men 9-26 years of age 
  • Men 27 years of age and older who have sex with men 

HPV2 vaccine

The HPV2 vaccine is recommended, but not provided free, for girls and women 9 to 45 years of age. The HPV2 vaccine is not currently approved for use in boys or men.

Anyone who is not eligible for a free HPV vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies and travel clinics. 

Get answers to frequently asked questions about HPV vaccines here.