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Information for teachers

Human papillomavirus or ‘HPV’ is a common virus. It can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact in the genital area. 8 in 10 of us will get it at some point in our lives and it usually doesn’t cause any problems. However, some types called ‘high-risk HPV’ can cause cervical cancer. They can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva (the external genitals around the vagina) penis and anus, as well as some head and neck cancers.

Other types called ‘low-risk HPV’ cause genital warts — these are not linked to cancer.

HPV vaccination can help prevent at least 7 out of 10 cases of cervical cancer and 9 in 10 cases of genital warts.

Along with HPV vaccination, cervical cancer can be prevented with cervical screening. In the UK, any woman or person with a cervix between aged 25–64 is eligible for cervical screening.


“I was diagnosed with cervical cancer through a smear test in January 2009...The diagnosis was unbearable and the fear of cancer is totally consuming, all you and your love ones can think about is the disease. I have two daughters Lucy and Evie, Lucy is in year 7 and will soon be offered the HPV vaccination. I am so pleased that my daughters have the opportunity to reduce their risk of this awful disease, I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through what I have. It is so important that more parents and girls understand what the vaccine is for and that it can reduce their risk of cervical cancer.”


What you can do

  • Present a lesson about HPV, the HPV vaccine and cervical screening to help your students understand their choices
  • Encourage your students to talk about the vaccine with their parent or guardian.

HPV vaccine

In UK schools, girls and boys aged between 11 and 13 will be offered the HPV vaccine. If someone missed the HPV vaccine when it was offered to them in school, they might be able to get it through their GP up until their 25th birthday. The HPV vaccine protects against:

  • HPV 16 and 18, which cause 7 in 10 cervical cancers and some other cancers
  • HPV 6 and 11, which cause 9 in 10 cases of genital warts.

Present a lesson

Our resources are designed to support you and your students. They include information on HPV, the HPV vaccine and cervical screening.

You can view or download the resources via the links below:

 All of our information goes through a rigorous review process to make sure it is accurate and evidence based. 

Read more about how our information is produced >

Get resources

Get free resources and materials about HPV and the HPV vaccine.

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Date last updated: 
08 Feb 2024
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