The HPV vaccine protects against most of the cancers caused by the human papillomavirus. HPV is a very common virus that spreads through sexual contact. HPV is a very common virus; Approximately 14 million men and women become infected each year. HPV can cause penile, anal and throat cancer, as well as genital warts in males. It is recommended that both boys and girls receive the vaccine at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed.