HPV is the human papillomavirus. In the body, it causes changes in cells that lead to abnormal tissue growth. You may have heard that some forms of HPV lead to cervical cancer in women; these HPV forms tend to stay in the body for long periods of time. It can take years for someone to develop cancer after an HPV infection.
HPV is sexually transmitted and is in fact the world’s most common sexually transmitted infections (STI). World health agencies estimate there are more cases of genital HPV warts than any other STI, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report they see 6.2 million new cases each year.
One sexual contact with an infected person is all it takes. The virus is highly contagious. In the US, about 80 million people are already infected.
HPV is a collection of over 150 closely related viruses. The types that cause the genital warts are not the same type that cause cancer. HPV has many variants, and there are over 40 kinds that cause genital infections that lead to cancer. It’s sometimes difficult to know you’re infected because there may not be symptoms. Visible genital warts are usually the first sign, and appear shortly after the sexual contact.
These types of HPV lead to cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide. Most developed countries, including the US, screen women for early signs of cervical cancer. HPV can also cause other cancers as well, including cancers in other sexual organs like the penis, vagina and vulva, as well as cancers of the head and neck and anus.
There are new vaccines to protect against HPV infection. The vaccines are aimed at the HPV types that cause cancer. The CDC recommends two doses of HPV vaccine starting at around 11 to 12 years old in both boys and girls. The previous recommendation was three doses, but they’ve reduced it to two. Dose 2 should be given 6 to 12 months after Dose 1. The vaccine protects against cancers caused by HPV.
Gardasil, the HPV vaccine used in the United States, has gone through years of extensive FDA safety testing and clinical trials. Before and after research on the vaccine shows it is safe. Both the CDC and FDA closely monitor all approved vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, after they are licensed.
The HPV vaccine can cause common side effects like those seen with any other vaccine: pain, redness or swelling at the site of the vaccine, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and headache. No serious side effects are associated with the HPV vaccine. The benefits of this vaccine definitely outweigh the risk of not getting the vaccine at all.
Aubrey Pharmacy is proud to be a health care partner to our friends in Aubrey, Pilot Point, Little Elm, Savannah, Paloma Creek, Providence and the 380 corridor. Please ask us about our Med Sync program. Also, remember we do mail service and home deliveries. We are always ready to help our friends and customers with their health care needs.