Human papillomavirus, or HPV, refers to several hundred different types
of viruses that can cause skin warts. Approximately 40 HPVs are considered
to be sexually transmitted diseases, and of these 40, about 12 are linked
with increased risks of different types of cancer. Many times, HPV doesn’t
cause any symptoms, so infected people pass it on to their partners without
even knowing they have it. Fortunately, the HPV vaccine is now available
for young girls and boys and can dramatically decrease future cancer risks
for those who receive it. A
gynecologist can help you determine if the vaccine is right for your child. These facts
will also help.
What is the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine provides protection against four types of sexually transmitted
HPV, including those types responsible for approximately
70% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of cases of genital warts. The vaccine also protects against HPV
strains that are associated with anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oropharyngeal
cancers. HPV vaccines are inactivated, which means that no live viruses
are included in the vaccine.
Who should get the vaccine?
For girls, the HPV vaccine should be administered before they become sexually
active, so that there is no risk of them having the virus already. A pediatrician
or gynecologist may recommend giving the virus to girls between ages 11
and 12, but it is safe for girls as young as nine. Boys can receive a
version of the vaccine, called HPV4, between ages nine and 26.
What are the benefits?
The HPV vaccine is not a type of contraception and does not encourage sexual
activity, which are fears some parents have. The vaccine simply prevents
infections when recipients do become sexually active that could later
turn into cancer. According to the
American Cancer Institute, nearly all cases of cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer cases, and 65%
of vaginal cancer cases are caused by HPV infections, and a vast majority
of these cases could be prevented by the HPV vaccine.
Make an appointment at Washington Surgi-Clinic if you have questions about
the HPV vaccine, STD testing, and HPV treatment in Washington, D.C. Please
call (202) 659-9403 to schedule your visit.