FOOD and HEALTH: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine: What's It All About?
Recently, much ado have been given to the human papillomavirus immunization, otherwise known as HPV Vaccine, through various media advertisements here in the Philippines. I found out that this virus had just been discovered in skin cancer by the end 1970's, that is why its effects and immunizations are only being publicized these days.
In the U.S., there are about 20 million Americans infected with HPV from which 12,000 women get cervical cancer each year where approximately 4,000 die from each year. Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. Yes, HPV can only be sexually transmitted and there are more than 40 types that can affect the genital areas of male and female, as well as the mouth and throat. Many people do not even know that they have HPV because the virus either leaves the body for some time or produces unwanted diseases in the genital areas. There is no test to check HPV status nor treatments of the virus, itself, but there are treatments for the diseases that HPV can cause.
HPV can cause genital warts which is a small bump or a group of bumps like cauliflower that grows in the genital area. If left untreated, genital warts might go away, remain unchanged, or increase in number but will not turn into cancer. HPV can also cause cervical cancer but usually the symptoms do not appear until it's already advanced, therefore, screening for cervical cancer must be done regularly through pap smear and other screening tests. Other HPV-related cancers are anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers.
So what do we do to prevent this HPV? We get immunized. Ideally, the vaccine is most effective when given before a person's first sexual contact. The vaccines are in 3 shots or injections--initially, then on 2nd month and 6th month after the first dose. It is recommended for girls aged 11 to 13 years but it can be given up to the age of 26. It is also given to boys from 9 years through the age of 26.
What can we conclude here? That sexual promiscuity is not a good thing; you'll never know if a moment of lust today can cause serious damage in your future.