HPV Vaccination

As the mother of a tween girl, I find myself playing the ostrich more and more, hiding my head in the sand as my daughter continues to evolve from my little girl into a woman, (achh! Even typing this my heart races). This is one of those touchy topics I’ve been pretending doesn’t exist or apply to my family, but alas it does. So for all you other unsettled parents – here’s the 411 on HPV.

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus and is a common Sexually Transmitted Infection. There are about 40 types or strains of this virus and an infection is most often undetected (i.e. no signs or symptoms). A few types can cause genital warts and certain cancers in males and females and still others cause cervical cancer in females. It’s thought that about 50% of all sexually active people have been infected with this virus which is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner. There are now vaccines for both sexes to prevent infection by the more common HPV which cause warts and cervical cancer. The vaccine is given in 3 doses and here’s the kicker: It is most effective if given to children at 11 or 12 years of age. (Now you see why I have a hard time digesting all this).

As in any STI or STD, abstinence is the gold standard but with HPV causing problems in people up until they are in their late 20’s, it’s truly impossible to ensure chasteness until that time – as much as we would like to.

For females there are two vaccines, Cervarix, which protects against most cervical cancers and Gardasil, which protects against most cervical cancers but also other genital and anal cancers as well as genital warts. Both should start around 11-12 years but can be given to females up to 26 years and can begin as early as 9 years. For the males, Gardasil is the only vaccine that protects against most genital warts and anal cancers and can be started at 11 years and given up to 26 years of age.

Now neither I, nor the CDC are suggesting that your precious 4th, 5th, or 6th graders are going to be promiscuous, but that the the vaccines are most effective at that age. All three doses are required LONG before your darlings become sexually active. So when you sit down for “The Talk(s)” or continue your discussions about B.O., hair growth, voice changes, buds and periods, you may also want to include sexual health in there as well. You may want to discuss this with your child’s pediatrician too. And you just might have to follow that up with a big ‘ol glass of wine.

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Author: tammyjuco

Motivating and assisting you and your family to a healthier and happier lifestyle.


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