Getting a vaccination early in life helps the body build immunity (special antibodies) to rid itself of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) if exposure occurs later. HPV vaccines are recommended for males and females, ages 9-26.
HPV is a virus associated with invasive cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) and penis. It is also the cause of genital warts. Genital human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and, each year, 6 million new infections occur. The disease is so common that 50% sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in time.
Most cases of the virus can be cleared by the body’s immune system but there is no way of knowing which people will progress to develop cancer. There are very few symptoms unless the warts are external. Abnormal Pap smears, the test for cervical cancer, requiring treatment are caused by HPV. If you or someone you know has had an abnormal Pap smear, you may have HPV and your doctor will recommend the required follow-up and treatment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two vaccines that protect individuals from contracting this virus: Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil is recommended for males and females and protects against invasive cancers and genital warts. Cervarix is recommended only for females (not males) and protects against invasive cancers only. Availability of these vaccines occurred in 2005 for females and 2009 for males.
Education is the key to making good decisions about your health and your child’s health. Talk to a health care provider about HPV and the vaccines used to treat it.
Healthy Girls and Boys
Healthy Girls and Boys is a program providing vaccinations to protect against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at clinics throughout the state. This program is sponsored by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Department of Health.
For details about the program, as well as information about HPV, the vaccinations that protect against it or to request a special group clinic, call (501) 526-7636, email LEGreen@nulluams.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Healthy Girls and Boys site.