HPV (short for human papillomavirus) is a virus you may not know too much about, but you should.

As a parent, you know that nothing is more important than the safety of your child and protecting him or her from illness or injury. You make sure your child has a healthy diet. You get the right gear to protect him or her from sports injuries. You take your child to the doctor for regular checkups. But what about helping to protect your family_portraitchild from certain diseases caused by HPV?

There are about 40 types of HPV that can affect the genital area. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 14 million new genital HPV infections* in the United States each year. It is estimated that approximately 50% of them occur in 15- to 24-year-olds.

HPV is a widespread virus that affects most people in their lifetime. For most, HPV clears on its own. But for others who don't clear certain types, HPV could cause significant consequences: cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer in females and anal cancer in males and females. Other types could cause genital warts in both males and females. And there's no way to predict who will or won't clear the virus.

Here are some important facts you should know about HPV:

  • Any genital contact with someone who has HPV puts you at risk — intercourse isn’t necessary
  • For many, HPV is transmitted during their first 2 to 3 years of sexual contact*
  • Each day in the United States, 33 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer (about 12,360 women per year)

*Number represents about 40 genital HPV types, not just HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18

Copyright © 2015 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

This site is intended only for residents of the United States, its territories, and Puerto Rico.

VACC-1135311-0000 01/15