• 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 a virus that 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 using the vaccine that protects against four strains of HPV called Gardasil. Girls can be vaccinated with either Gardasil, or a different vaccine that protects against two HPV strains called Cervarix. This article focuses on Gardasil.
    Gardasil is the first vaccine designed to prevent both genital warts caused by HPV and cervical cancer. 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, children should be vaccinated before their first sexual contact. The vaccine may be given starting at nine years old.
    Girls and women aged 13-26 years who did not receive the HPV vaccine when they were younger should still receive the vaccine series.
    Boys and men aged 13-21 years who did not receive the HPV vaccine when they were younger should still receive the vaccine series. Men aged 22-26 years may also be vaccinated. Men in this age group should be vaccinated if they have sex with other men, have HIV infection, or have a weak immune system.

    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 types 6, 11, 16, and 18. However, most people do not contract all four 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.

    RESOURCES

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

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

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

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

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

    References

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years —United States, 2011. MMWR. 2011;60(5).

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

    FDA licenses new vaccine for prevention of cervical cancer and other diseases in females caused by human papillomavirus: rapid approval marks major advancement in public health. FDA Press Release, June 8, 2006. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01385.html. Accessed June 13, 2006.

    Harris G. US approves use of vaccine for cervical cancer. The New York Times. June 9, 2006. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/09/health/09vaccine.html. Accessed June 13, 2006.

    Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 29, 2009. Accessed November 29, 2009.

    HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine gardasil: what you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hpv-gardasil.pdf. Updated February 22, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2012.

    McCoy K. Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated November 17, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2009.

    Merck & Co., Inc. Prescribing information for gardasil. Available at: http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi%5Fcirculars/g/gardasil/gardasil%5Fpi.pdf. Accessed June 13, 2006.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    HeartSHAPE® Test Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan 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.