HPV vaccine protects against cancer

Sorting out the misinformation

Contributed by Catherine Geering, MSN, WHNP-BC, NCMP

hpv vaccineAs a gynecological and sexual health provider, I’ve spoken to many parents who have misconceptions about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, or who don’t understand the benefits. Typically, their biggest concern involves the safety and side effects of the vaccination. But the fact of the matter is, the HPV vaccine (a series of three shots) has been extensively studied by the Food and Drug Administration and determined to be an overwhelmingly safe, effective way to protect your son and daughter from various forms of cancer and genital warts.

I realize, though, safety is just one question concerned parents have about the HPV vaccine. The following Q&A highlights some of the other most common concerns parents have about both the disease and the vaccination.

What is HPV?
HPV is a common virus easily spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. There are many different types and strains of HPV. Some types can cause cervical cancer in women and other less common kinds of cancer in men and women. HPV can also cause genital warts in men and women.

How common is HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, with about 20 million people currently infected.

How common is cervical cancer?
Each year in the U.S., 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,000 will die from the disease.

Who should get HPV vaccines?
Girls and women, as well as boys and men, age 13 through 26 years should get the vaccine series. It’s best if your son or daughter receives the series of three vaccines before his or her first sexual contact. This is because the vaccine prevents disease in people who have not previously been exposed to the HPV virus.

Is there another way to prevent HPV?
The only sure way to prevent HPV is to avoid sexual contact.

If you would like further information or would like to schedule an appointment for the HPV vaccine, please call (513) 475-UC4U.

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