• Gardasil: An HPV Vaccine to Prevent Cervical Cancer

    PD  Fitness and WellBeing 67058Human papillomavirus HPV is a virus that can cause genital warts, anal cancer, and cervical cancer. It is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that girls and boys aged 11-12 years old be vaccinated against HPV. Boys can be vaccinated with either Gardasil or Gardasil 9 to protect them against HPV-caused anal cancer, precancerous anal lesions, and genital warts. Girls can be vaccinated with either Gardasil, Gardasil 9, or a different vaccine called Cervarix. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 protects girls against HPV-caused cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers and precancerous lesions as well as genital warts. Cevarix protects girls against cervical cancer caused by HPV. This article focuses on Gardasil and Gardasil 9.
    Gardasil is the first vaccine designed to prevent both genital warts and cervical cancer caused by HPV. The vaccine is a product of genetic engineering and is considered safe. Gardasil does not contain HPV. Rather, it uses a harmless viral protein to stimulate the immune system and create resistance against the virus. It is, therefore, not possible to become infected with HPV from the vaccine.
    Gardasil is recommended for girls and boys as a 3-dose series between 11-12 years old. For the vaccine to be most effective, adolescents should complete the series before their first sexual contact in order to have time for an immune response to develop. The vaccine may be given starting at 9 years old.
    If you did not receive the vaccine when you were younger, recommendations for the HPV vaccine series include:
    • Girls and women aged 13-26 years old, especially those with a suppressed immune system
    • Boys and men aged 13-21 years old
    • Men aged 22-26 years old if they are gay, bisexual, or have a suppressed immune system
    Although it is not specifically recommended, men aged 22-26 years old can also get the vaccine.

    What Else Should I Know About Gardasil?

    Gardasil is not a treatment, but a prevention measure. The vaccine will not help those who already have HPV. However, most people do not contract all 40 types of HPV at the same time, so the immunization would still be recommended as a preventive measure against the HPV types that a woman or man does not have.
    Also, Gardasil does not prevent infection with the other HPV types that are not contained in the vaccine. Therefore, the vaccine does not replace the need for routine Pap smears to screen for cervical dysplasia (a precancerous condition) and cancer in women. Women and girls severely allergic to yeast should not be immunized with Gardasil. Also, the product is not recommended for pregnant women.

    More on HPV

    The HPV lives on the skin or mucous membranes of infected people. There are often no symptoms of HPV and many cases go away on their own. Although the body’s immune system is often effective in getting rid of many types of HPV, other types of HPV can cause genital warts and, more seriously, cervical cancer. Fortunately, the vast majority of HPV infections do not lead to cervical cancer.
    The transmission rate of HPV is high because most people who are infected do not know that they have HPV and, therefore, do not take necessary precautions. Even more importantly, HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact and not via blood or bodily fluids, like most other STDs. Anyone who has ever been sexually active has the risk of getting and passing on HPV. Because there are no symptoms, a person can have HPV for years and not know they are transmitting it. Condoms are not entirely effective in preventing HPV infection because areas that are not covered may be infected. However, using latex condoms has been associated with a lower rate of HPV infection in women.


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov


    Sex Information and Education Council of Canada http://www.sieccan.org

    Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca


    Birth-18 years & catch-up immunizations schedules, United States 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/child-adolescent.html. Updated May 26, 2015. Accessed July 9, 2015.

    HPV (human papillomavirus) Cervarix® VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv-cervarix.html. Updated May 3, 2011. Accessed July 9, 2015.

    HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine Gardasil® VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv-gardasil.html. Updated May 17, 2013. Updated July 9, 2015.

    Human papillomavirus (HPV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html. Updated June 23, 2015. Accessed July 9, 2015.

    Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 3, 2015. Accessed July 9, 2015.

    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet. Updated February 19, 2015. Accessed July 16, 2015.

    Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.