Each August, National Immunization Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. At ASHA, we focus on three important vaccines that can help prevent sexually transmitted infections—vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A.


Download the fact sheet: Myths and Facts about HPV Vaccines

HPV is very common. Most sexually active people have HPV at some point in their lives. The infection is usually harmless and the body most often clears it in a short time. But sometimes, HPV does not go away. In a few people, high-risk HPV and related cervical cell changes last for many years and can lead to cancer if they aren’t found. Being vaccinated against HPV can lower the chance a woman will develop cervical cancer.

HPV can also lead to other types of cancer, including cancers of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (back of the throat, including base of the tongue and tonsils). Low-risk types of HPV can cause genital warts.The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancer. HPV vaccines can help prevent these diseases too.

There are currently three HPV vaccines available:

Experts recommend that all females between the ages of 9 and 26 get an HPV vaccine. About half of all new infections are diagnosed in girls and young women between 15 and 24 years of age, so early vaccination is important. Males are at risk for HPV and related diseases, too, so boys and young men are also recommended to be vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through direct contact with blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In adolescents and adults, this is the most common mode of transmission. It can also be transmitted by injecting drug users who share needles or other injecting equipment contaminated with HBV-infected blood.

Hepatitis B can cause chronic infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, and even death. The good news is that hepatitis B is preventable through vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis B vaccination for:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily through oral contact with feces (oral-fecal contact). This includes contaminated food or water sources but also sexual contact, especially oral-anal sex. Like hepatitis B, hepatitis A can also be prevented through vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis A vaccination for: