HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is spread by having sex with someone who has the virus. Infection with HPV is common, especially among young people. Half of all sexually active people in the United States will get HPV, but most women never know they have the virus, because it usually goes away on its own and may not cause any symptoms.
If you have a child who is at least 9 years old, you may be weighing whether he or she should get vaccinated against HPV.
There are two HPV vaccines: Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil, which protects against four HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18), is approved by the FDA for use by females aged 9-26 to help prevent cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva; genital warts, and anal cancer. It’s also approved for males aged 9-26 to help prevent genital warts and anal cancer.
Cervarix targets HPV types 16 and 18. It’s approved for females aged 10-25 to help prevent cervical cancer.
Pros of the HPV Vaccine
• According to one study vaccination of the entire population would prevent more than 200,000 HPV infections, 100,000 abnormal Pap tests, and 3,300 cases of cervical cancer
• The vaccine has been licensed by the FDA and has been deemed safe and effective by the CDC
• HPV vaccines are recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases, The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Cons of the HPV Vaccine
- The vaccine doesn’t prevent all strains that can cause cervical cancer.
- Because it is relatively new, little is known about long term effects.
- Over 80 percent of young teens who get the virus claim of negative effects such as fainting, headaches, and dizziness after taking the HPV vaccine.
- Some parents think it is too early—as young as age 9—to vaccinate for a sexually transmitted disease
- Some parents believe that it will provide their daughters a sense of safety, and their teens will become more sexually promiscuous
- Some parents feel there are already too many vaccines
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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner and News Examiner.
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