Three Reasons to Get Vaccinated for HPV (human papillomavirus)

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The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can infect males and females. HPV vaccines have been developed to fight against the many gynecological cancers that HPV causes including cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers. HPV is responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers. HPV is also responsible for other types of cancers, like penile, throat, tongue and anal cancers. Additionally, HPV can cause genital warts.

It’s important to note that the HPV vaccine is not an STD prevention vaccine but a cancer prevention vaccine. Here are 3 important reasons to get vaccinated against HPV:

 

One) The HPV Vaccine is considered safe & effective  

Safety of the vaccine is generally the most common concern parents and patients often have. The HPV vaccines on the market today are considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC states that some side effects can occur from the vaccine. Temporary side effects can include pain, swelling and redness at the injection site, headaches, fainting and muscle pains. In addition to their safety, these HPV vaccinations work. Recent studies have confirmed that receiving the HPV vaccination can protect for at least 8 years. This study followed vaccinated pre-teens from the time they were vaccinated 8 years ago, and has found that even today, their bodies are still going strong, producing the antibodies needed to protect against HPV. The study also confirmed that none of the vaccinated pre-teens developed any HPV-related conditions from the vaccination.

 

Two) HPV can be dangerous

Though chlamydia and gonorrhea get more of the limelight for being common sexually transmitted diseases, HPV is actually the most common STD. According to the CDC, HPV is so common that most sexually active males and females will inevitably contract it. Today, there are 79 million Americans living with HPV. Every year 14 million more Americans become diagnosed with the disease. There are more than 40 different types of HPV. Furthermore, HPV can evolve into a myriad of different cancers. While some people living with HPV live normal lives, there is no way to predict whose HPV will remain dormant and whose will develop into one of the many different cancers that HPV is responsible for.

 

Three) It is readily available, and covered by most insurance companies

Knowing the types of cancers and diseases HPV can cause can help us to protect ourselves and our children. Some parents worry that vaccinating their children is synonymous with giving them permission to engage in sexual activity at a young age. It’s important to remember, however, that the HPV vaccination is not designed to facilitate sexual activity in young people. It is administered to young, pre-teens in order to prevent exposure to the disease before they become sexually active young adults. However, this is not to say that you cannot still get the vaccine. Through age 26, the HPV vaccine can be administered, so still take advantage of this opportunity and get vaccinated.
HPV can be very dangerous if it evolves into any of the seven different types of cancer it is known to cause. HPV is so common that almost all sexually active men and women will contract some form of it during their lives. It is also important to remember that HPV can infect you at the same time as other STDs. This is why, in addition to meeting with your doctor, you should have regular STD testing performed. Through regular testing, you can know the current status of your sexual health.

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Sources:
1 CDC – HPV Facts
2 CDC – HPV Vaccine FAQ
3 NY Times – Expansion of US Cancer Vaccine
4 Washington Post – The Cure for Cancer that Parents Won’t Use