Who should get the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine, announced in 2006, has been hailed as a vaccine against cervical cancer. In fact the vaccine affords protection against four (of the one hundred) strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) – this virus is implicated in 70% of cervical cancer cases and is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the US. Cervical cancer is shown to be the second most common cancer in women worldwide. The recent HPV vaccine is recommended for all women aged from nine to twenty six years of age.
Who should have the HPV vaccine?
Publicity for the vaccine against HPV indicates that its effectiveness is greatest when administered prior to females becoming sexually active and it generally recommended for girls aged eleven or twelve.
It should be noted that the intention of the HPV vaccine is not encourage girls to become sexually active but rather to afford them some protection against cervical cancer when they do take that step.
Many concerns have been expressed with regard to mass hpv vaccination and its effect on the sexual activity of teenagers. Many people believe that this vaccine will encourage promiscuity as they believe they can participate in risk-free sexual activity. However, historically it is true to say that fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease has never stopped young people engaging in sexual activity, therefore, it does not necessarily follow that freedom from contracting an infection will cause an increase in promiscuity.
Many more people believe that whilst teaching young people the benefits of sexual abstinence is the preferred approach, it is also wise to offer protection against the dangers of cervical cancer to those who are, or may, become sexually active.
What the doctors say
Many medical practitioners are of the opinion that since mandatory vaccinations already take place in many schools simply adding the HPV vaccine makes sense. Vaccinations against hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, among others, are already mandatory as part of public health requirements, whilst parents can teach their children about the benefits and morality of abstinence, the medical professional should be doing all they can to protect young people and the wider population from serious medical conditions.
There is, in fact, no treatment for the HPV viral infection, the virus very often disappears of its own volition but this may take a number of years. Treatment is available for the warts that may be produced by the virus and also for any abnormal cells discovered during routine screening.
Whilst the hpv vaccine will offer protection against the virus it is also wise to practice safe sex and use condoms – this will then give the necessary protection against other sexually transmitted disease such as the HIV infection.
The HPV virus is extremely common – many people may have the infection and not even be aware of it, there are over 100 strains of the virus and it is possible to be immune to one strain but not another. The virus is more commonly seen in young people – probably due to developed immunity in older people.