If you are a parent of pre-teens, you have no doubt been informed of the HPV Vaccine. So what is HPV and why should you have your children vaccinated?
Following is information provided by the CDC:
Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not know they have it. HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). These are all viruses that can be passed on during sex, but they cause different symptoms and health problems.
HPV vaccines are given as a series of three shots over 6 months to protect against HPV infection and the health problems that HPV infection can cause. There are two different vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil. Only Gardasil is available for males.
HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active with another person. That's why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years.
What are the signs, symptoms and potential health consequences of HPV?Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems from it. In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV within two years. But there is no way to know which people who get HPV will go on to develop health problems.
- Sometimes, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts in males and females. Rarely, these types can also cause warts in the throat -- a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or RRP.
- Other HPV types can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal, and might lead to cancer over time. These HPV types can cause Cervical cancer and other, less common cancers, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
The safety of Gardasil was studied in clinical trials with 29,000 females and males before it was licensed. The safety of Cervarix was studied in clinical trials with more than 30,000 females before it was licensed.