I knew little about HPV when I realized it’s a deadly cancer-causing virus. Yes, you read that correctly! Human Papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, is the most common cause of Cervical Cancer among women.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally. The cases of cervical cancer have increased and keep a tendency to increase in the forthcoming years if people do not get vaccinated.
The WHO and every health organization advise people to get the HPV vaccine.
Do you wish to have a grasp on HPV vaccines and everything related to it? ZeaMed will let you know because it believes health is the most valuable asset. Keep reading below and discover more.
What is the Human Papillomavirus?
Human papillomavirus infection is a common infection caused among men and women when sexually active. HPV falls under the category of “sexually transmitted diseases” but can be transmitted even by skin to skin touch.
There are many types of HPV infection, and some can get treated independently. However, there are certain infections that can persist and gradually lead to cervical cancer. The most prominent cause of cervical cancer is HPV. Therefore, the HPV test and the HPV vaccine are a must for all.
HPV symptoms in men and women
Most of the HPV symptoms in men and women go unnoticed and 90% of them resolve. However, some cases of HPV persist for more extended periods and result in severe infections.
- Genital warts
This is by far the most common symptom of any STD infection. If there is an HPV infection, genital warts are the most common symptoms. Genital warts are small lesions, bump-like or tiny stem-like protrusions.
Itchy genital warts can appear on the penis, anus or scrotum among men. Among women, genital warts due to HPV can appear mostly in the vulva, vagina and anus.
- Common warts
Common warts can also be symptoms of HPV infection. They are warts that appear rough and raised and usually occur between fingers.
- Plantar warts
HPV infection can also display symptoms through the appearance of plantar warts. They are quite different from common warts as they are grainy and appear on the heels and balls of the feet.
- Flat warts
These kinds of warts can usually appear on the face. They are flat-topped and slightly raise lesions.
How does HPV cause cervical cancer?
Most HPV infections go away by themselves; however, some tend to remain for a longer time. Some of these infections become chronic, and the precancerous lesions can develop into cervical cancer. It usually takes 15-20 years for cancer to develop in women.
It can take 5-10 years for cancer to develop among immunocompromised people or those with low immunity.
How can one prevent HPV infection?
Nearly half of sexually active men and women can get HPV during their lifetime. Some get treated on their own, while some tend to become chronic.
- Reducing the number of sexual partners
The more sexual partners one has, the greater the chance of contracting HPV. Even having sex with a partner who has multiple partners can lead to infection.
- Using Protection
Every sexually active man and woman must make the best use of a condom during sexual activity. Sometimes warts are not prominent enough to notice, and one can catch the infection.
- HPV Vaccine
Getting a shot of the HPV vaccine is by far the most effective prevention. Girls and boys should take the vaccine before they become sexually active.
- Regular Testing
Women above the age of 21 must undergo regular PAP screening to know their status. You must consult your doctor before you go for any test.
HPV vaccines: Prevention against Cervical cancer
If you go through the current statistics of cervical cancer, you will discover that it is the fourth most common cancer among women. Cervical cancer causes at least 7.5 % of all female cancer deaths globally. More than 311000 women die of cervical cancer, and 85% belong to low and middle-income countries.
Therefore what we can conclude is the lack of screening. As fewer women go for regular PAP smear tests, HPV tests etc., they fail to identify their medical status. Among several middle and low-income countries, cervical cancer awareness is too low, leading to high cancer rates.
HPV vaccines can be a game-changer in preventing the growing rate of cervical cancer among women. These vaccines prevent the disease-causing HPV viruses like HPV 16,18,6, 11 etc. Appropriate use of HPV vaccines can also prevent cervical cancer-causing viruses like HPV 31,33,45,52 and 58.
Who should get HPV vaccination?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices(ACIP) of the CDC recommends the following:
- As soon as boys and girls reach the age of 9, they must go for HPV vaccines. HPV vaccines are recommended till the age of 26 years for those who were not vaccinated earlier.
- Although the Food and Drug Corporation permits HPV vaccination even at 45, it becomes less effective. However, the ACIP recommends that patients must get the vaccine by 26 years or before they have been exposed to the virus.
- HPV vaccines do not harm pregnant women. However, you must consult a doctor before taking the HPV vaccine if you are pregnant.
What are the available HPV vaccines?
The Food and Drug Administration has approved three HPV vaccines-
- Nine valent HPV Vaccine like Gardasil 9, 9vHPV
- Quadrivalent HPV Vaccines like Gardasil and 4vHPV
- Bivalent HPV vaccine like Cervarix, 2vHPV
All three vaccines prevent HPV types 16 and 18, which mainly cause cervical cancer. Gardasil 9 (Merck) is a nine-valent HPV Vaccine that protects us against the HPV types 6,11,16, 18, 31, 33, 45,52 and 59. Gardasil 9 is the only HPV vaccine that is available in the USA.
Are HPV vaccines effective in preventing cervical cancer?
Well, people often come up with whether these vaccines are effective. Several clinical trials show that the HPV vaccines are highly effective against the virus. However, these vaccines have to be given before the onset of sexual activities to be more effective.
The HPV vaccines have also been shown to resist precancerous growths and cancers related to the vulva or vagina. Gardasil 9 is 100% effective against all the common HPV types.
CDC, WHO and other major health organizations insist women take the HPV vaccine.
Are there any side effects of the HPV vaccine in women?
All vaccines have certain side effects and you do not have to worry. Just like any other vaccine, the HPV vaccine might also produce some side effects.
- Swelling at the site of injection
- Muscle/Joint pain
These symptoms are very common after any vaccine shot. You can prefer to lie down a bit after taking the vaccine. If you find any issues getting worse, consult your doctor immediately.
Can one stop cervical cancer screening after taking the HPV vaccine?
Definitely not! HPV vaccines do not protect against papillomaviruses but not all types of cervical cancer-causing viruses. Women must continue with their regular screening as advised by their physicians.
HPV vaccine: A must for all
HPV Vaccine is a must for all women. You must go for this vaccine and encourage every woman to take the vaccine. However, you must consult your doctor beforehand. The HPV vaccine is safe, and there are hardly any side effects of this vaccine. ZeaHealth believes that women’s health is the backbone of every advancing civilization. Therefore all women must break stereotypes and take care of their health.