HPV vaccines: Protecting girls from cervical cancer

Every day, 30 women in the United States find out that they have cervical cancer.

That’s a surprising statistic, and here’s another surprise: Cervical cancer may be preventable.

Cervical cancers are unique in that they aren’t passed genetically; instead, almost all of these cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is passed from person to person through sexual contact — in fact, it’s the most common sexually transmitted disease, with more than 40 strains of the virus in existence. It can affect males and females, and although most people who become infected don’t know it, others develop genital warts or discover they have HPV through a Pap smear.

Certain strains of HPV — Types 16 and 18 — are known to cause cervical cancer. Two vaccines now exist to prevent infection from HPV and so greatly reduce your chances of developing cervical cancer. Both vaccines protect against the HPV strains most likely to lead to cancer, and one of them also protects against Types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.

The FDA has approved vaccines for use in boys and girls as young as 9 and up to age 26. They are best administered before an individual becomes sexually active, because after you come in contact with this extremely common virus, the vaccine is less effective.

Many parents understandably have concerns about vaccinating their children against a sexually transmitted disease. But the HPV vaccine presents a unique opportunity to prevent a cancer that is all too common and that can be deadly.

In fact, no evidence exists that those who receive the vaccine are any more sexually active than those who don’t. There is no doubt that they are safer from contracting or spreading the HPV virus, which many people have without even knowing it.

Less HPV means less cervical cancer.

And keeping women healthy is what we’re all about.

Call 317-338-4HER for answers to your questions about the HPV vaccines and to find low-cost options for getting vaccinated.

Related Stories