Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a group of more than 150 viruses that can spread from one person to another via skin contact and vaginal, anal or oral sex. It is a very common infection acquired by men and women alike. Most of them who get HPV do not have any issues and their immune system clears the infection. But some of them may suffer from benign conditions like warts or rarely cancer. HPV can cause six different cancers: Cervical cancer, Vaginal cancer, Vulvar cancer, Anal cancer, Penile cancer and Oral cancer.
The good news is that now we have a very effective vaccine called Gardasil that can prevent HPV infection and its complications. As per CDC 30,000 cases of cancer can be prevented with HPV vaccination each year.
Ideal age for HPV vaccination is around 11 to 12 years for both boys and girls. The same time when they receive meningococcal vaccine and tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough vaccine. Two doses six to twelve months apart are recommended for age less than 15. Three doses over six months recommended for age 15 and over. HPV vaccine is recommended in young men and women through age 26. Some adults 27 through 45 years of age can also benefit from this vaccine if they are appropriate candidates. However, the benefit is subdued as many of these adults may have already been exposed to HPV.
We have successfully eliminated or significantly reduced the occurrence of various debilitating infections with the help of vaccination. HPV vaccine is unique as it prevents the infection that is responsible for cancers. Hence it is the one of a kind vaccine that can prevent cancers.
Parents, please make sure your kids get HPV vaccine. One more shot, but it’s worth it!
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