HPV stands for the Human Papillomavirus and it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Each year, there are six million new cases of HPV. Among these, 75 percent occur in people from age 15 to 24. Most cases are asymptomatic and eventually clear up own their own. This said, some cases can turn into cervical cancer. There are 3,900 deaths due to cervical cancer each year in the U.S.
Precancerous lesions of the cervix and cervical cancer are caused by the high risk strains of the virus. The low-risk strains can cause anogenital warts and juvenile respiratory papillomatosis.
There are currently two vaccines that protect against HPV. Gardisil protects agains four types of HPV and is approved for females ages 9-26. These four strains are the culprits behind 75 percent of all cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts cases. It is also approved for the prevention of genital warts in males.
Cervarix is the other vaccine and it protects against two strains of HPV. It is approved for the prevention of cervical cancer in female patients.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that girls get immunized for cervical caner around age 11 or 12. Even though this seems very young, studies have shown that HPV is a problem for 25 percent of girls ages 14-19 years old. Early vaccination is important to acquire the most protection.
HPV vaccines are safe according to the FDA. Gardasil has been linked to fainting within 15 minutes after an injection, but fainting has also occurred after blood is drawn or other injections have been given to this age group, so it may not be specific only to Gardasil. For more information you can go to www.cdc.gov or make an appointment to see your child’s healthcare provider.