SEXUAL HEALTH: HPV vaccine

 

The vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) is making headlines again thanks to governor and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.

Being originally from Texas, I was proud (and surprised) Perry issued an executive order in February 2007 mandating 11- and 12-year-old girls to get the HPV vaccine. The order would have also made the vaccine free for those not covered by insurance (great!).

Perry came under attack as he was criticized for issuing the order in exchange for a $5,000 campaign contribution and them some. The order was eventually overturned.

Perry recently came under attack again during a Republican debate where he said issuing the mandate was a mistake.

Political controversy aside, the vaccine does prevent HPV and can prevent cervical cancer. What I didn’t know, however, which a great follow up article by NPR’s Morning Edition points out is that the vaccine may only protect for four to five years, so vaccinating girls as young as 11 may not protect them during their sexually active years.  

Also, according to Dr. Diane Harper, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said in the article that 95% of women infected with HPV do not get cervical cancer. Pap smears, she says, are more effective in preventing cervical cancer.

The fact is that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some point in their lives. FIFTY PERCENT. That is a lot of people.

Not only can HPV cause cancer, it can cause genital warts, and warts and warts. You can get them in your throat too.

Regardless of what Perry’s motivation was to pass the mandate and regardless of whether the vaccine prevents against cervical cancer, the vaccine prevents against HPV. That is a good thing. If you are a sexually active young girl, you should consider getting the vaccine.

– JD

4 Responses to “SEXUAL HEALTH: HPV vaccine”

  1. globosexuals Says:

    More HPV vaccine updates…
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/science/21squid.html?_r=1&hp Thanks to @victoria_29 for bringing the article to my attention.

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