HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. There are many types of viruses that are in this group of classification. Men and women can contract HPV. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first vaccine ever to be, in the prevention of a viral infection. This vaccine protects females from four types of HPV. These four types of HPV are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of the genital warts found on skin and mucous membrane.
The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent infection with HPV. In order to achieve this purpose the vaccine must be given BEFORE the female is sexually active. The target age to receive the vaccine is between 9 and 12 years of age. Girls who are 13 to 26 should receive the vaccine if they are not sexually active or if they started the series of vaccines and did not previously finish the series. There is not enough research yet, to determine if the vaccine is effective for females who are older than 26 years of age.
Why a Vaccine
The vaccine is given to girls in a series of three injections over a six-month period of time. Females who are pregnant should not receive vaccines until their baby has been delivered.
The target recipient of the vaccine has been selected to be young girls because between the ages of 9 and 13 there is a higher chance that they have not been sexually active yet. Once a female is sexually active there is a high probability that they have been exposed to 1 – 4 of the HPV viruses. Research has yet to be finished regarding the effect of the vaccine on boys. Research has also not been concluded on the safety factor for the unborn baby when giving the vaccine to pregnant females.
The cost per injection is about $120 and the cost per series (3 in 6 months) is about $360. Some not all commercial insurance companies are covering the recommended vaccines along with the cost of administration. There are also federally funded programs that will assist those who qualify in paying for the cost of the vaccine. One program involved in the federally funded programs is “Vaccines for Children Program”. You can find out more about this particular program on this Website: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vfc/
How does the Vaccine Impact Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer results from HPV. It is a sexually transmitted disease. By targeting females before they become sexually active (not having been exposed to HPV) their immune systems can be protected from the threat of the virus should they become exposed once they do become sexually active. Anytime you target the prevention of what causes a cancer, you are effectively reducing the occurrence of future cancer.
Those females who are vaccinated and someday are sexually active will not be contracting HPV and therefore not passing it on to sexual partners who have not previously been sexually active.
Thus those partners should be protected as well from spreading HPV should they decide to engage in sex with any other females. Once having sex with women who have not been vaccinated that male loses any associated protection he had. Vaccinated females will reduce the occurrence of cancer in them and in those they partner with who have remained sexually inactive prior to that association.
What about protecting males from cancer caused by HPV?
Although there is no conclusive research available at this time to aid in preventing HPV in males; vaccinating females between the ages of 9 26 who have not been sexually active will prevent the spread of HPV, which will have an impact on the males they have sex with in the future. HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact as well as sexual contact in the genital areas.
If the male is partnering with a female that has been vaccinated and he is not previously sexually active and he remains with this partner for life; then he is more assured that he wont contract HPV. The risk factors for contracting HPV are shared sexual partners and having sex with those who are infected. Most people do not know that they are infected because there are no symptoms other than the genital warts. Warts are not always visible or detected and therefore your sexual partner does not usually know the existence of HPV and therefore having sex is risky.