What is HPV? HPV stands for human papillomavirus and is a common STD. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts.
How Is HPV Spread?
Sexual activity: Genital skin-to-skin sexual contact – Vaginal, Anal or Oral sex.
Having sex at an early age.
Having sex with an infected partner.
Having many sexual partners or Having a partner who has had many sexual partners.
The Connection between HPV and Cervical Cancer: Most types of strains do not cause cervical cancer. However, certain strains of HPV are more likely to lead to the disease. HPV vaccine can protect women against cervical cancer and may be most effective when given to younger women.
Benefits of the HPV Vaccine? The main benefit is protection from cervical cancer.
Two HPV vaccines currently in the market: Gardasil and Cervarix.
In 2006, the FDA licensed Gardasil, the first cervical cancer vaccine.
In 2007, Cervarix was approved. However, does not protect against all cancer-causing HPV.
What is Gardasil? This is a vaccine that protects against the strains of human papillomavirus that most likely cause cancer but does not protect against all HPV strains.
Vaccines that protect against strains responsible for 70% cervical cancers are: HPV 16 and HPV 18 and 90% genital warts: HPV 6 and 11.
When Should Girls Receive the HPV Vaccine? Full benefit of the HPV vaccine occurs only if you receive it before you’re infected with any of the HPV strains. The vaccine can be given to girls as young as 9 and as old as 26, but is advised that they get the vaccine between ages 11 and 12, before they become sexually active. It’s important that girls are protected against HPV infection early enough and a good time is in the early teenage years. Getting the vaccine as early as possible will protect them in the future.
How Is the HPV Vaccine Given? Two or Three injections within a 6-24 month period. The vaccines are safe and the main side effect of the HPV vaccine is mild pain on the injection spot.
Regular Pap Smears: Another Way to Fight Cervical Cancer
Regular Pap smears find early changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer. Identifying problems early provides the chance for more effective treatment. It’s advisable to commence Pap screening in girls and young women within 3 years of becoming sexually active, and by age 21, which would make them need fewer pap smears taken at longer intervals over their lifetimes.
If someone is already sexually active, will this vaccine still work? The vaccine will not prevent that strain of HPV from causing disease for someone already infected with HPV, but will protect against new infections with other strains of HPV.
How long does the HPV vaccine protect for? The vaccine protects against HPV infection between 6 to 10 years, although experts expect protection to be for much longer.
Cervical screening helps detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they progress to cancer. Early detection and treatment of cervical abnormalities can prevent three-quarters of cervical cancers. Hope you have learned a thing or two ladies(and the men reading this). Stay informed and Go For Regular Check-Ups!