What is Human Papillomavirus?
Human papillomavirus [HPV] is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in our society today. Approximately 79 million Americans are infected with genital HPV. About 14 million become newly infected each year, most of whom are teens and young adults. More specifically, an estimated 19,200 women and 11,600 men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV every year in the United States. This virus has been associated with anogenital cancer [including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and anal], oropharyngeal cancer [mouth and throat], and genital warts.
The HPV vaccine significantly reduces the incidence of these aforementioned conditions. According to the CDC, if HPV vaccination rates were increased to 80%, it is estimated that an additional 53,000 cases of cervical cancer could be prevented during the lifetime of those younger than 12 years. For every year that the vaccination rate does not increase, an additional 4,400 women will develop cervical cancer. For this reason, it is important to remain up to date with your pap smears as directed by your Provider.
The FDA has approved three vaccines that are effective at preventing HPV infection: bivalent, quadrivalent, and 9-valent vaccine. The bivalent vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. and the quadrivalent will no longer be available after May 2017. The quadrivalent vaccine protects against four HPV serotypes, and the 9-valent vaccine, protects against nine HPV serotypes. Approximately 90 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed in the United States since the first HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006. It is recommended that girls AND boys aged 11-12 years be vaccinated, although the vaccine can be given to children as young as 9 years and up to age 26 years. Three doses are usually administered. It is not recommended to restart the series if the timing of the subsequent doses is delayed. The vaccines are usually covered by insurances as a preventative benefit up to age 26 years. Earlier vaccination is preferred and there is a higher efficacy when given before the onset of sexual activity, as HPV is sexually transmitted. Statistics have shown that by 12th grade, two in three students have become sexually active. Nevertheless, vaccination is still recommended regardless of whether the child has become sexually active or not, since exposure to all nine serotypes is highly unlikely. Thus, the vaccination will likely confer some benefit. Furthermore, the HPV vaccine is not associated with an earlier onset of sexual activity or increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections but may be protective if your child has sex, not of their choosing. At this time, there is no indication for a booster vaccine later in life.
Safety of the HPV vaccine has been studied and considered to be very safe. Research shows that the benefits significantly outweigh the potential risks. Of course, all vaccines may have some side effects. The most common side effects associated with HPV vaccines are mild, and include pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the injection was administered. Fainting (syncope) may be seen in adolescents so patients are usually observed for 15 minutes or more.
Our office is proud to offer the 9-valent HPV vaccine to our patients, young women and young men.
Call 757-436-2424, to make an appointment.
For more information please visit http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Human-Papillomavirus-HPV-Vaccination
“Human Papillomavirus Vaccination” ACOG Committee Opinion Number 704. March 2017.