HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers


Human Papillomavirus

Key Points

  • It is estimated that more than 70% of sexually active Canadians will have at least one infection with human papillomavirus in their life.
  • A vaccine is available that prevents certain types of human papillomavirus.
  • Certain types of human papillomavirus can lead to cervical, penile and anal cancer.

There are over 100 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). About 40% of HPV strains are transmitted sexually. Some of these strains can cause anogenital warts, some can lead to cancer (e.g., cervical, penile, anal or throat cancer) and others have no known effect.

National incidence and prevalence data do not exist for HPV as it is not a notifiable disease in Canada. However, it is estimated that about 75% of all sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada estimates that between 10% and 30% of the adult population has HPV.

There are universal vaccination programs for school-aged children (males and females) in every Canadian province and territory. The vaccines are highly effective at preventing the types of HPV infection for which they are indicated, but vaccinated individuals may still get other types of HPV. Therefore, it is important to continue screening men and women for precancerous and cancerous changes (e.g., Pap tests).

There is no cure for HPV, but HPV often clears on its own. If it does not, there are HPV treatment options. For now, HPV treatment focuses on the symptoms of the infection. Symptoms include genital warts associated with certain HPV types (which don’t generally lead to cancers) and the precancerous changes sometimes associated with other types of HPV.

Individuals with HIV are at an increased risk of co-infection with HPV. People with HIV also have an increased risk for HPV-related complications such as cancer.


HPV, cervical dysplasia and cancer – CATIE/SIECCAN fact sheet

HPV, anal dysplasia and anal cancer – CATIE/SIECCAN fact sheet


  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada's Provincial and Territorial Routine (and Catch-up) Vaccination Routine Schedule Programs for Infants and Children. Available from:
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada. Human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention and HPV vaccines: questions and answers. Available from:
  3. Public Health Agency of Canada. Human papillomavirus (HPV). Available from:
  4. Hosein S. French study finds increased anal cancer risk despite ART. CATIE News. 2012. Available from:
  5. Maclean D, Ollner A, Hosein SR. HPV, cervical dysplasia and cancer. CATIE Fact Sheet. 2016. Available from:
  6. Houlihan CF et al. HPV infection and increased risk of HIV acquisition. A systematic review and meta-analysis. AIDS. 2012 Nov 13;26(17):2211–2222.
  7. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologist of Canada. HPV Info. Available from: