HPV Vaccine in Singapore

What Is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common viral infection that will infect most people in their lifetimes, but usually clears up without need for treatment. It is transmitted through intimate contact and is extremely common in people who have had sex before. It does not usually cause any symptoms. There are many different types of HPV. Low risk HPV types cause warts but not cancer. High-risk HPV types can cause pre-cancerous changes which may eventually lead to cervical cancer without intervention.

What causes HPV?

HPV is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. Majority of people get infected with HPV through direct sexual contact such as vaginal, anal, and oral sex. However, intercourse is not necessary for transmission to occur. 

There are many asymptomatic people with HPV who don’t know that they have it. Hence, it is possible to contract HPV even if your partner isn’t showing symptoms. There is also a possibility of having multiple types of HPV. 

Rarer cases involve the mother having HPV transmitting the virus to her baby when delivering. The child may then develop recurrent respiratory papillomatosis where warts form inside the airways.

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What are the symptoms of HPV?

Usually, HPV infections don’t cause symptoms or any health issues. 90% of HPV infections go away by themselves, but the virus is still transmissible during this time. 

If the virus doesn’t go away, it can cause genital warts, or warts in the throat as in recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. The type of warts depends on the type of HPV that you have. Some of the warts that can occur are:

Genital warts

These are tiny, stemlike bumps or flat lesions that may have a cauliflower appearance. They may itch but normally wouldn’t hurt.

Common warts

These are tough, raised bumps normally found on the hands, fingers and elbows. 

Shoulder tip pain

If blood leaks from the fallopian tube, you may feel pain around your shoulder tip.

Plantar warts

These are hard, grainy bumps normally found on the balls or heels of feet.

Flat warts

These are flat-topped and slightly raised and smooth lesions that can occur anywhere on the body, typically looking darker than the rest of the skin.

HPV may also lead to cervical cancer or other cancers of the genitals, head, neck and throat.

Who is at risk for HPV? 

Risk factors for HPV infection include:

Number of sexual partners

The more sexual partners you have, the higher your chances of contracting a genital HPV infection. If your partner has had multiple sex partners, your risk increases too.


Common warts usually occur in children. Genital warts happen most often in adolescents and young adults.

Weakened immunity

People with weaker immune systems are at higher risk of a HPV infection. Immune systems may be weakened by HIV or by immune-suppressing drugs used after organ transplants.

Damaged skin

Open wounds on the skin are more susceptible to common warts.


Coming into contact with someone else’s warts or contacting surfaces with HPV such as in public showers or swimming pools may increase the risk of contracting HPV.

What are the treatments for HPV in Singapore? 

HPV cannot be cured, but the symptoms are treatable. The doctor may be able to treat and remove the warts. If there are any precancerous cells, the tissues can be removed to reduce the chances of developing cancer. Cancers caused by HPV are more treatable with early diagnosis.

How do I prevent an HPV infection? 

You can reduce the risk of developing HPV warts by

  • Being in a mutually monogamous relationship 
  • Reducing the number of sex partners 
  • Using a latex condom during sex 
  • Taking the HPV vaccine
Doctor with gloves holding on to a HPV vaccine

What Is The HPV Vaccine And Why Do I Need It?

The HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer by protecting against certain strains of HPV infection. Vaccination has been shown to protect against 70-90% of cervical cancers if given before onset of sexual activity (depending on vaccine type). Although the vaccine cannot treat current infection, it can still offer some protection for those who are sexually active or already exposed to HPV. It is a 2-dose regime (0 and 6 months) for girls/boys aged 9 to 14 years, and a 3-dose regimen (0, 2, 6 months) for girls/boys aged 15 years and above. It is currently licensed from 9 to 26 years old but is safe to be given for those above 26 years old as well.

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Does The Vaccine Have Side Effects?

It is a very safe vaccine with minimal side effects. The most common side effects are pain, slight swelling/redness at the injection site, and temporary headache.

I Have Completed The HPV Vaccinations. Do I Still Need Cervical Cancer Screening?

Yes. Protection is not 100% and it is recommended that you have regular cervical cancer screening.


Types of HPV vaccineCervarixGardasil-4 Gardasil-9
CoverageHPV 16/18*HPV 16, 18*

HPV 6, 11+

HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58*

HPV 6, 11+

Medisave coverYesYesNo

*16/18 causes 70% of all cervical cancers. 16/18/31/33/45/52/58 causes 90% of all cervical cancers

+ 6, 11 causes genital warts