Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of virus capable of causing cancer in humans, specifically; oropharyngeal (back of the throat, tonsils, and tongue), anal, cervical, penile, vulvar and vaginal. There are also HPV types causing most cases of genital warts in women and men. Skin-to-skin contact is the most common form of being infected with HPV, usually during mutual sexual activity between two partners. One can be infected and not know it, which makes it possible to spread the disease to another person. The HPV vaccine is receiving a cold shoulder in many areas of the country.
A powerful weapon in helping to prevent HPV is the use of the HPV vaccines. These highly effective vaccines are readily available for men and women and help to protect against common HPV viruses and related health problems the virus is capable of stirring up. Recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two vaccines licensed through the FDA. The vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix.
Cervical cancer in women is caused mainly by the HPV virus. Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer. Women succumb to cervical cancer at the rate of about 4,000 deaths every year, in the United States. 15,000 HPV related cancers might be prevented in the U.S. by vaccines each year, some of those cancers are; oropharyngeal, cervical, vulvar, anal, and vaginal cancers.
These vaccines are able to help protect people from getting HPV infections, and also help prevent the cancers they cause later in life, however, the amount of teenagers in this country who have been inoculated with the vaccine is unbelievably low, according to reports from officials at the CDC. Apparently, the CDC explains physicians are missing chances to treat this virus at the same time they use other immunizations on teens for tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria and meningococcal vaccines. A cold shoulder from many physicians may be the ultimate reason for the lack of inoculations of the HPV vaccine.
For the vaccine to be effective it is important to receive three doses, usually starting at age 11 or 12. Many children do not finish the series, about 57 percent of the girls and only 35 percent of the boys receive just one does of HPV. Cost is not an issue as this vaccine should be completely covered by insurance. Side-effects and safety issues are a concern, though the only main side-effect is fainting, which is a common occurrence among teens getting any vaccine.
Parents were polled by CDC as to why their sons and daughters were not vaccinated and one of the top five reasons listed was no recommendation by doctors for them to receive the shot. Not all school districts in this country are not required to administer the HPV vaccine. The CDC suggests the opportunity for greater success with the HPV vaccine lies within the power of pediatricians. It is a simple matter to inoculate for other virus threats, it is possible to include the HPV immunization at the same time.
An interesting study among Grand Valley State University students in Allendale, Michigan, revealed the most common barrier for students not receiving the HPV vaccine was religious beliefs, moral stance, or a perceived idea of receiving the vaccine promoted liberal sexual behavior. The study was conducted by Jamie Phillipich and Margie Webb, both physician assistant studies majors.
Webb and Phillipich questioned 1,000 first year students as part of their research project. In 2013, first year students were chosen for the survey as they were the first to be inoculated when the HPV vaccine was introduced for girls in 2006 and three years later for boys. Results from their survey included many statistics relating to the types of vaccine received, the percentage of those students receiving all three doses, types of barriers preventing inoculation, and who provided information about receiving the vaccine. The standout statistic was the 91 percent who reported a moral barrier against receiving the vaccine. This cold shoulder approach is an area where more concrete information concerning the HPV vaccine is badly needed.
By Andy Towle