Be One Less – Cervical Cancer Prevention
*music emoji* O-N-E L-E-S-S, I want to be one less, one less! *music emoji*
Back in 2007, you might recall this catchy commercial for Gardasil – the vaccine to help protect women against cancer-causing HPV types. The commercials had the clear message of “one less,” because with the help of the vaccine, “one less” woman would be diagnosed with, or die from cervical cancer. And since 2016, Gardasil® 9 has been the only HPV vaccine used in the United States, and helps prevent nine different HPV types.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, and almost everyone who is sexually active will get this infection at some point in their life.
HPV includes a group of more than 100 types of related viruses.
According to Dr. Valerie Allen, obstetrician and gynecologist at The Christ Hospital:
Genital HPV infection can occur even if you do not have intercourse. The types of HPV that cause genital warts are considered low-risk because they rarely develop into cancer. High-risk HPVs are linked to cervical cancer.
But Here’s the Good News
Since 2006 when the HPV vaccines were first used in the United States, HPV infections and cervical pre-cancers have dropped significantly. According to the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC), the percentage of cervical pre-cancers caused by HPV has dropped by 40 percent among vaccinated women.
And now with over 15 years of monitoring in the books, this vaccine has been marked as “very safe and effective” by the CDC as well.
Gardasil® 9, the aforementioned only HPV vaccine used in the United States since 2016, was studied in clinical trials with more than 15,000 females and males. Now, more than 135 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed since they were licensed where the data continues to prove the vaccines are safe and working.
Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?
Although the recommendations have shifted since 2006, the CDC now recommends HPV vaccination for all boys and girls ages 11-12, but it can be given starting at 9 years and up to 26 years. The vaccine is administered in two doses, and if you do not get both doses in the recommended 6-12 month timeframe, you do not have to “start over.”
If you are older than 26 years old and are unvaccinated against HPV, talk to your primary care physician or OBGYN to see if it’s right for you.
What should I do next?
Great question! To schedule an appointment with a primary care physician or obstetrician and gynecologist to ask questions about getting vaccinated against HPV, connect with The Christ Hospital ezCare Concierge here.
For more information on Women's Health at the Christ Hospital, check out our resource page here.
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