Why do our daughters and sons need the HPV vaccine?
Every year in the United States, 12, 000 of women are diagnosed with cervical cancer that is directly related to HPV, the high risk types, 16 and 18. We also know that about 8,000 boys and men get cancers caused by these high risk types of HPV. The HPV vaccine specifically targets these high risk types of HPV, specifically 16 and 18.
The HPV vaccine is given to girls and boys from the ages of 9-26 year to prevent being infected with the HPV virus. HPV is epidemic and found in 80% of women and men. In women, HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix and genital warts in women and men. In men, it is estimated that there are more than 1,000 new cases of HPV-associated penile cancers in the United States occur each year. Almost 80% of anal cancers are associated with HPV which is also on the rise with 3,000 new cases each year seen in both men and women. Cervical, penile and anal cancers might be preventable by the current HPV vaccines.
HPV is associated with oropharyngeal cancers such as tongue, mouth and throat. There are no screening tests available to test for these types of cancers. Getting the HPV vaccine is another way to protect yourself against these difficult to detect cancers that are on the rise.
There are 2 different HPV vaccines available for girls and women. Boys and men can only get 1 type of HPV vaccine. Both HPV vaccines are given through a shot, getting 3 doses over a 6 month period. The ideal age to get the vaccine is around 11 or 12 years. However the targeted age groups for girls and boys is from 9 to 26years. The HPV vaccine will be most effective before a person contracts HPV. You want to receive the vaccine before you become sexually active. If you have already contracted HPV you could still be a candidate to receive this vaccine.
The main side effects of the HPV vaccine are related to the injection site causing redness, swelling or soreness. If you become faint when having blood taken you may experience this same sensation with the injection. I am unaware of any reputable connection between the HPV vaccine and death. Prior to the vaccine being available to the public, it was tested in 30,000 women over a 7 year period with minimal side effects. Currently there have been about 40 million doses of the vaccine safely administered.
The medical community is aware of the power of the HPV vaccine in preventing cancers in women and men. There are two vaccines on the market today that every girl and boy should receive prior to becoming sexually active to optimize its benefits. A recent study showed that there was a 56% decrease in the incidence of HPV related symptoms as a result of having had the HPV vaccine.
It’s time to draw attention to the benefits of the HPV vaccine for women and men in significantly reducing other preventable cancers.