What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus(HPV) is a common virus that comes in many different forms. Some cause no harm; others can cause diseases of the genital area. For most people, the virus goes away on its own. When the the virus does not go away, it can develop into cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, or genital warts, depending on the HPV type.
HPV affects both women and men and is easily transmitted.
- Anyone who has any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact with an infected person can get HPV – intercourse isn’t necessary.
- Many people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms, so they can pass the virus on without even knowing it.
What is Gardasil?
Gardasil is a vaccine for HPV and is indicated for girls and women ages 9 to 26. It works when administered before you have any contact with HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18. HPV Types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases.
Gardasil is given as 3 injections over 6 months:
- First dose: At a date you and your doctor or healthcare professional choose
- Second dose: 2 months after the first dose
- Third dose: 6 months after the first dose
If you’ve already been infected with HPV, you may still benefit from Gardasil because it is unlikely that you have been infected with all 4 types of the virus covered by the vaccine. However, Gardasil may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is very important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings (PAP test).
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). Cervical cancer is caused by Types 16 and 18 of HPV. When a female becomes infected with certain types of HPV and the virus doesn’t disappear on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the lining of the cervix. If not discovered and treated early, these abnormal cells can become cervical precancers and then cancer.
What are genital warts?
Genital warts are flesh-colored growths that appear in or around the genital area. The types (6 and 11) of HPV that cause genital warts are different from the types that can cause cervical cancer.
About 2 out of 3 people who have sexual contact with a person who has genital warts will get them. Even after treatment, there is a chance that the genital warts could come back if HPV is still present. In fact, 25% of cases come back within 3 months.
Is there anything I should know about Gardasil?
- Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients should not get the vaccine.
- Gardasil is not for women who are pregnant.
- It will not treat these diseases and will not protect against diseases caused by other types of HPV.
- The vaccine is given as 3 injections over 6 months and can cause pain, swelling, itching, and redness at the injection site, fever, nausea, and dizziness. Speak with your doctor to find out if Gardasil is right for you or your daughter.
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