When it comes to today’s young women and health, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine is on the top of the list.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. The CDC states that 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV some time in their lives. There are over 40 different types of HPV that can infect the genitals, mouth and throat in both male and female. Most people do not know that they are infected. HPV is passed through genital contact. It is most commonly transmitted during vaginal and anal sex but it can also be passed during oral sex.
Most people do not develop symptoms or health problems from HPV. Research has found that the body’s immune system will clear it naturally within two years. Certain types of HPV can cause genital warts in both male and females. Although it is rare, warts can also appear in the throat causing Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis or RRP. Other types of HPV can cause abnormal cells which can lead to cancer such as cervical cancer.
The CDC says that cervical cancer is the easiest cancer to prevent. Regular screening tests and follow-ups can help prevent or find it early. The Pap test (or Pap Smear) is one test that helps find pre-cancers and cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if not treated. The HPV test checks for the virus that causes these changes on the cervix. There is no routine screening tests for HPV related diseases. However, you should visit your doctor regularly for check-ups.
HPV vaccines are available for males and females. Currently, the most popular vaccine is Gardisil which also protects against most genital warts. Cervarix is another vaccine that is available. Both of these vaccines are recommended for girls between the age of 11 and 12 and females between the ages of 13 through 26. The vaccine is given in three doses over time. It is recommended that the same vaccine brand be used for all three doses. Gardisil is also available for boys and men between the ages of 9 through 26.
Important Information about GardisilGardisil may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. Gardisil does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it’s important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings. GARDASIL does not treat cancer or genital warts. For more information on prevention and treatment, please visit the CDC and Gardisil websites.