What is the Human Papillomavirus? Commonly known as HPV, it is an infection that spreads through sexual contact. There are over one hundred different types of HPV; several types cause genital warts, while other high risk strands can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus, vagina, and penis. Because HPV is often asymptomatic, many people are unaware of their infection status, and thus, their potential for transmitting the virus to a sexual partner.
The significance of the Human Papillomavirus is that fifty percent of Americans who are sexually active will contract it within their lives, and at any given point there are twenty million Americans already infected with it (“ By the numbers: HPV Vaccine”). Infection with HPV is a significant publichealthburden in the United States because of the costs for screening and treatment for cervical abnormalities, as well as costs associated with treating benign genital warts. There is a vaccine known as Gardasil that will prevent strands of HPV. The vaccine, FDA approved, is effective towards different types of HPV.
Human Papillomavirus vaccines should be administered to females, who are sexually active, to fight against certain strains of the virus, such as genital warts and most importantly cervical cancer. Genital warts is a skin infection caused by the sexually transmitted disease, the Human Papillomavirus. HPV types associated with genital infections are transmitted sexually, primarily through skin to skin contact during sexual activity. Warts are extremely common. Statistics show that “ each year 250, 000-500, 000 Americans develop genital warts” (“ By the Numbers: HPV”).
All are benign. In women, warts occur in or around the vagina, on the cervix or around the anus. In men, genital warts are less common but might occur on the top of the penis. There are currently several different strains of HPV that cause both external and internal warts. In the United States, about 1. 4 million people have genital warts, which cause HPV (Board, A. D. A. M. Editorial). According to researchers, “ vaccines for the Human Papillomavirus are available to protect against the two types of HPV” (types 6 and 11) that cause about 80% of genital warts (“ HPV Vaccine”).
The Human Papillomavirus vaccine has been recommended for females nine to twenty-six years old; it should be administered before the onset of sexual activity, but the girls and women who are sexually active should be vaccinated as well (“ HPV Vaccine”). Most infections go away within 1 to 2 years, but some persevere. Persistent infection can increase the risk of certain types of cancers. Nearly two decades ago, experts discovered a relationship between infection with HPV and cervical cancer. Since then, these experts have learned much more about what HPV can lead to (“ Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatments”).
The Human Papillomavirus can cause changes in a woman’s cervix. If the body clears the infection, the cervical cells go back to normal, but if they do not and the infection continues, the cells will abnormally change. The American Cancer society says “ about 12, 170 women will find out they have cervical cancer in the U. S. this year” (“ By the Numbers: HPV Issues”). Many women in the United States get Pap smear tests, and if they have abnormal cells, they have them removed before they become benign. The high strands of HPV cause Pap smear tests to show that the cells are abnormal.
According to Statistics “ researchers say that virtually all cervical cancers, more than 99%, are caused by these high-risk HPV viruses” (“ Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatments”). The most common of the high-strains of the Human Papillomavirus are types 16 and 18, which cause seventy percent of all cervical cancers (“ HPV Vaccine”). Cervical cancer has an effect on women not only in a health manner. The emotional cost from HPV is a further burden as it may include fear of cervical cancer, apprehension, and the stigma associated with a sexually transmitted infection.
HPV is so common that drug companies long sought to develop a vaccine against it. In June 2006, Gardasil, a Human Papillomavirus vaccine made by Merck & Co. , was licensed for use and brought to the market (“ HPV Vaccine”). Gardasil, which is given into a series of three injections, targets the main types of HPV. The types targeted are HPV 6, HPV 11, HPV 16 and HPV 18, which cause ninety percent of the genital warts and are the leading causes of cervical cancer (“ Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatments”). Brought to the attention by researchers “ combined, those strains affect an estimated 3 million women in the U. S” (“ HPV Vaccine”). Since HPV is so common in the United States, the makers of Gardasil are trying to get a law approved that will make the shots mandatory. In 2006, Upon Gardasil’s release, Merck & Co. launches an intensive lobbying effort to convince state lawmakers to make the vaccine mandatory for girls entering middle school. Approximately two dozen states consider adopting such a law in the first few months after Gardasil’s debut. “ Key Events in the History of HPV” Women are not aware of the causes or effects of HPV. They lack knowledge of the infection and are more at risk.
Circumstances are worsened when accompanied by a lack of knowledge about the transmission of the virus and its association with genital warts and cervical cancer. Doctors are recommending Gardasil to their patients to prevent genital warts and cancers. “ I’m a Pediatrician, and in Pediatrics, we do routinely recommend Gardasil to both boys and girls,” says Dr. Marney Gundlach (“ Undernews”). Dr. Alvin Bay Lin also quotes, “ As afamilyphysician, I recommend Gardasil to all appropriate patients, boys & girls 9-26yo, to prevent cervical and other genital cancers, anal cancer, and genital warts.
There is some evidence that it may even be useful in women 27-45yo” (“ Undernews”). In today’s generation, girls begin having sex as young as nine years old, and that is causing the risk of HPV to increase. Recently, Gardasil has been approved for males, in order to decrease the risk for spreading infections and to primarily lowering the results of spreading it to women (“ HPV Infection in Men: Symptoms, Treatments, Causes. ”). Note that the vaccines are not an HPV cure. Gardasil has been shown to provide protection for five years. The Human Papillomavirus vaccination does not mean women can skip their Pap smear test.
Gardasil is slowly becoming known in order to enhance the awareness of its prevention against HPV. Should girls and young women receive the Human Papillomavirus vaccine? Yes. The vaccine is nearly one hundred effective in preventing diseases caused by high-risk strains of HPV (“ By the numbers: HPV Vaccine”). HPV is so common within the United States that at any given point there are twenty million people that have it (“ By the numbers: HPV Vaccine”). The Human Papillomavirus causes skin infections, also known as genital warts. They occur in both men and women, in or around the genital areas.
There are over one million people in the United States that have contracted genital warts (“ Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatments”). If infections are not cleared up, they may lead to cervical cancer. Approximately, 3, 700 women die each year from cervical cancer (“ By the numbers: HPV Vaccine”). There is a vaccine out that has been Federal Drug Association, and Center for Disease Control approved to help prevent strains of HPV. Gardasil helps target the four main types of HPV. It is administered into a series of three shots, is effective to work up to five years. The shots may be presented to both men and women, in order to reduce etting high risk strains of HPV. Doctors are recommending Gardasil to their adult patients as well as their adolescent patients in order to create awareness against HPV. Due to lack of knowledge of how severe HPV can be, Gardasil should be administered to both men and women to decrease the number of HPV infections a year and the number of deaths of cervical cancer. Statistics show the vast number of Americans who have contracted HPV, and how they are rising every year. Gardasil may be the safest choice in protection for women, in order to slowly decrease future numbers.
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