Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a virus that can cause cervical cancer in women. As per the Communities for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the most well-known physically communicated infection in the US. There are more than 150 strains of HPV, and some of them can lead to cancer. However, there is good news: the HPV vaccine can help protect against cancer-causing virus strains.
The CDC recommends that all children aged 11 or 12 get vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine is given in a series of two shots, six to twelve months apart. The CDC also recommends that young adults aged 13 through 26 who have not been vaccinated should get the vaccine. The HPV vaccine is vital for both males and females.
HPV And Cancer
HPV is a major public health concern because it can cause several types of cancer, including cervical, vaginal, penile, anal, vulvar, and oropharyngeal (throat). In fact, according to the CDC, about 31,500 cancers caused by HPV are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Although most people who contract HPV will not develop cancer, some virus strains are more likely to lead to cancer than others. For example, HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine protects against these two strains and two other cancer-causing strains (HPV 6 and 11).
The HPV Vaccine
The HPV vaccine effectively prevents infection with cancer-causing strains of the virus. The CDC reports that the vaccine is about 90 percent effective in protecting against HPV 16 and 18.
It is important to note that the HPV vaccine does not protect against all virus strains. Therefore, it is still important to practice safe sex and get regular Pap tests even after vaccination.
Who Should Get The Vaccine?
As we mentioned, the CDC recommends all children aged 11 or 12 should get vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine is most effective at this age because it helps ensure immunity before children become sexually active. However, young adults up to age 26 who were not previously vaccinated can still benefit from the HPV vaccine.
The CDC also recommends that certain groups of people get vaccinated, even outside the recommended age range. These groups include:
- Men who have intercourse with men through the age of 26
- Transgender persons through age 26
- People with HIV through the age of 26
- People with certain types of cancer through the age of 26
- People who receive organ transplants through the age of 26
HPV Vaccination Side Effects
Like any vaccine, the HPV vaccine can cause aftereffects. The most well-known side effects are torment and redness at the infusion site. Other side effects may include fever, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Most of the time, these side effects are minor and disappear independently.
Rarely does the HPV vaccine have serious adverse effects. However, there is a slight possibility of problems, as with any medical procedure. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the HPV vaccine.
HPV Vaccination Cost
Most insurance plans cover the HPV vaccine. However, if you do not have insurance, or if your insurance does not cover the vaccine, the CDC has a program that can help you get it for free or at a reduced cost.
HPV Vaccination And Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should talk to your doctor before getting the HPV vaccine. According to the CDC, pregnant women are not advised to get the HPV vaccine.
HPV Vaccination And Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, you can still get the HPV vaccine. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to nursing infants. However, it is important to note that the vaccine may not be as effective if you are breastfeeding.
HPV Vaccination And Herpes
If you have herpes, you can still get the HPV vaccine. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to people with herpes. However, it is important to note that the HPV vaccine will not protect against HSV-2, which causes genital herpes.
HPV Vaccination And HIV
If you have HIV, you can still get the HPV vaccine. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to people with HIV. However, it is important to note that the HPV vaccine may not be as effective in people with HIV.
While there is no cure for HPV, there is a vaccine that can help protect against certain strains of the virus. Children aged 11 or 12 should get vaccinated. Young adults up to age 26 who were not previously vaccinated can also benefit from the vaccine. In addition, certain groups outside the recommended age range should also get vaccinated against HPV, including men who have sex with men through age 26 and transgender persons through age 26. Talk to your doctor today to see if you or your child should get the HPV vaccine.