Why is human papillomavirus products targeted to children before sexual activeness? Could all ages benefit from this vaccine even if they may have or have not contracted a form of HPV to prevent other forms of HPV?


I could not find anything where it says it is more effective on younger people vs older people.

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    $\begingroup$ What has your research told you? The Biology.SE community has agreed that questions that show little or no prior research effort are off-topic on this site unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. Please edit your question and tell us where you've looked for answers, what you do know about the topic, and where exactly you still have questions. Unresearched questions may be subject to down-voting and closure. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause I did could not find if there were a reason other than just to get it before you have HPV. $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ Well, if you have to get vaccinated before you get infected, why isn't that a good enough reason? $\endgroup$
    – swbarnes2
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


A lot of sexually active adults carry one or another strain of HPV but most do not develop cancer. You can carry HPV — and spread it to others — without showing any symptoms yourself:

HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Most people never know that they have been infected and may give HPV to a sex partner without knowing it. Nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with some type of HPV. About 14 million people in the United States become newly infected each year.

There is less reason to give a vaccine to someone older, generally, who is almost certain to be infected with some form of HPV. A vaccination is not a broad cure, though it can provide some protection against infection from strains of HPV that someone is not already infected with:

But the vaccine also offers some protection for HPV-positive women, reducing cervical lesions by 17% and genital warts by 35%. HPV-positive women usually aren't infected with all four of the targeted strains. In clinical trials, those infected with one or more of these strains before vaccination were protected against the remaining ones.

Pre-teens are unlikely to be infected with any forms of HPV, having no or much less sexual contact, and so they are the best candidates for being administered the vaccine.

This cohort will get the most protection from those strains that the vaccine protects against, strains which are most likely to cause relevant cancers.


From presentations made by oncologists at a cancer survivors support group at MDAnderson ; chances are very high the young people will get some HPV by age 20. The upside is that of the 50+ strains of HPV only a few cause cancers : but why take any chance on cancer ? Another upside is there is now data that the vaccine works : It took time to show results because the HPV cancers don't develop until over age 40 and usually older ( I was 70). Unfortunately the vaccine was only given to girls at first , it is now recommended for boys and girls . The support group is for Dysphagia/swallow problems which are basically" head and neck cancers" so mostly from HPV which is why it has been discussed. As these are informal oral presentations I can't site sources but I am certain the information can be found in medical journals.


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