HPV Vaccination Has Proven Safe, Successful

Women's Health Update

The vaccine designed to help stop the spread of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, is doing just that in female teenagers and young women, according to a Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) study.

Diseases caused by types of HPV can range from genital warts to deadly cancers. Of the 40 types of HPV that can affect the genital areas of men and women, most are symptomless and go away on their own, according to the CDC. About 79 million people nationwide, mostly in their late teens and early 20s have HPV, and there are 14 million new infections each year.

In the U.S., HPV is blamed for about 19,000 cancer cases in women each year, with cervical cancer being the most common. About 4,000 women die from cervical cancer annually in the U.S., according to the CDC. About 8,000 cancer cases caused by HPV occurs in men each year, with throat cancer being the most common.

The CDC study, however, shows promising results for the vaccine for teen girls. Figures released by the CDC in 2013 show that since 2006, occurrences of the types of HPV covered by the vaccine have decreased 56 percent among females ages 14 to 19. The decrease in cases was greater than expected, and could also be attributed to immunity and/or changes in sexual behavior, according to the study.

As of June 2012, more than 46 million doses of HPV vaccine had been distributed, according to the CDC.

The three-dose vaccine is given over six months and is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 to 12 to give time for them to develop an immunity before becoming sexually active with another person, according to the CDC. The vaccine can be given to girls as young as 9 years old.

Cervarix and Gardasil both protect against the most common cervical cancers in women, according to the CDC, and Gardasil also protects against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva. Only Gardasil is available for males, while both vaccines are available for females. In males, Gardasil has been found to be safe and effective for ages 9 to 26. Both Gardasil and Cervarix have been approved by the Food and Drug AdministrationOff Site Icon (FDA) and the CDC.

In addition to preteen boys and girls, the CDC also recommends the vaccine for:

  • Any man who has had sex with a man
  • Men and women with compromised immune systems (including those living with HIV/AIDS) up to age 26 if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger
  • Teen boys and girls who didn't get the vaccine at the ages of 11 and 12
  • Teen boys and young men through age 21
  • Teen girls and young women up to age 26

Doctors do not recommend that women get the vaccine while pregnant, but rather wait until after the pregnancy if they have not already been vaccinated.

Since the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, vaccinated women should still get routine screenings and pap tests to detect changes in the cervix that could indicate cancer, according to the CDC.

For more information about preconception health talk with your physician or visit Women’s Health Specialists & Midwives of Dayton to find a physician.