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Gardasil HPV Vaccine FAQ

Gardasil (Recombinant Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent Vaccine)

Gardasil is a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine synthesized using recombinant technology. Gardasil is a sterile preparation for intramuscular injection and contains purified, inactive proteins from four types of HPV virus. It is noninfectious and contains viral-like particles (VLP) from HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil 9 is effectve against cancer caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 and genital warts (condyloma acuminata) caused by HPV types 6 and 11. Virus-like particles are structural virus proteins that resemble HPV virus. They can activate the immune system, but cannot replicate. Virus-like particles used in Gardasil are manufactured in yeast cells (S. cerevisiae) using recombinant technology. Once released from yeast cells, the VLPs are purified, combined with a catalyst (amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate) and a purification buffer. Gardasil-9 (9-valent HPV vaccine) will be the only HPV vaccine available in the U.S. after all lots of Gardasil (quadrivalent HPV vaccine) already distributed in the U.S. have expired.

Human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer, cervical adenocarcinoma, vaginal cancer and genital warts. Gardasil works by stimulating the immune system to attack HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18. Once Gardasil is administered, the body's immune system recognizes the viral proteins in Gardasil as foreign and develops antibodies against them, thus providing immunity to future infections. In the event of HPV exposure, the body will already be primed to fight the infection. HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 are commonly associated with HPV infections. HPV 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer and HPV 6 and 11 cause approximately 85% of genital warts.

In June 2006 the Food and Drug administration approved Gardasil for the prevention of HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 infections in girls and women aged 9-26 years. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine, as it is effective against four types of HPV. The 9-valent version of Gardasil, Gardasil-9, protects against 9 types of HPV. Gardasil protects against cervical cancer (cancer of the lower end of the uterus or womb); abnormal and precancerous cervical lesions; abnormal and precancerous vaginal lesions; abnormal and precancerous vulvar lesions and genital warts. Gardasil does not treat HPV associated diseases.

Last Reviewed 9/11/2017
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