2006 appears to be the year for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer. Last month the FDA approved Gardasil® as the first HPV vaccine, which is effective at preventing approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases. This is due to its activity against HPV types 16 & 18. It also covers types 6 & 11, responsible for about 90% of genital warts.
Approximately 80% of American adults contract HPV at some point in their lifetime. This vaccine is preventative, so needs to be administered before exposure to HPV. It doesn’t help with established infection, most of which will resolve because of our immune system. consequently the CDC recommends routine vaccination for 11-12 year-old girls and catch-up vaccination for 13-26 year-old females (may begin as early as age 9 according to FDA trial).
- Women should receive a series of three immunizations at 0, 2, and 6 months (costs approximately $360).
- The vaccine appears to be safe and without serious side effects. Adverse reactions are mainly injection site pain. This reaction is common and mild. There is no mercury in the vaccine.
- The duration of protection is unclear. Current studies indicate the vaccine is effective for five years. There is no evidence of waning immunity during that time period.
- Research about activity in males, older women, and duration of effectiveness is ongoing.
- Vaccinated women should continue to practice protective sexual behaviors (e.g. abstinence, monogamy, limiting the number of sex partners, and/or using condoms), since the vaccine will not prevent all HPV types—nor will it prevent other STDs.
- Vaccinated women will need regular cervical cancer screening since the vaccine will not provide protection against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, and since some women may not receive the full vaccine series.
If you have daughters between ages of 9 and 26, check with your pediatrician if they offer HPV vaccination. If they don’t, or if you are this age range, please feel free to schedule an appointment with us for counseling and immunization. This is an exciting breakthrough in the prevention of cancer.
Wishing you good health!
70% of Cervical Cancer will be prevented by this new vaccine
To learn more about HPV Vaccine, visit our web site Women’s Health Specialists
Women’s Health Specialists
2299 Mowry Ave. Suite #3C
Fremont, CA 94538