HPV (Human Pappilloma Virus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection which affects more than 90 per cent of sexually active women. Experts claim that every woman has been affected by this virus at least once. However, our immunity system gets rid of it on its own which is why in most cases, the person who is infected is not even aware of it. This might not seem like such a dangerous virus knowing that our body is capable of destroying it without any medical help. But, there is indeed a cause to worry because this virus can lead to a more serious and life-threatening disease, cervical cancer!
The HPV vaccine has been developed to combat this problem. However, before we get into the details of the HPV vaccine, it is essential that we know exactly what HPV is. Well, there are more than 100 HPV types which can affect both men and women. This virus is most common amongst people in their late teens and early twenties. While this affects more than 70 per cent of the population, most people do not even know that they have the infection, because there are no symptoms as such and they go away on their own. However some HPV types are dangerous and can cause cervical cancer in women as well as cancers of the anus, penis, vagina and vulva. They can also cause genital warts. Thus, it is necessary that people do not take a risk and get themselves a HPV vaccine.
There are two types of HPV vaccines to prevent HPV, one is Cervarix (developed by GlaxoSmithKline) and the other is Gardasil (developed by Merck). Both these vaccines are given in three doses over a period of six months. Typically, this vaccine is recommended for 11 and 12 year old girls because ideally it should be administered prior to the person becoming sexually active and consequently becoming exposed to HPV. However, women who are sexually active will also benefit from the vaccine, because they can be vaccinated against the HPV types which they have not already contracted.
The HPV vaccine attacks the HPV types that are commonly known to cause cervical cancer. However, they do not offer protection against all kinds of HPV types and therefore it is necessary that women get regular check-ups for cervical cancer. Plus, there are also possible side-effects, which a few people may suffer from. However, most of the side-effects are minor and can be treated at home without any medical help. Some of the serious side-effects that have been sporadically reported include:
- · Extremely high fever
- · Difficulty in breathing, wheezing, rashes or other signs of an allergic reaction
- · Weakness or a tingling sensation
- · Fainting
- · Seizures and headaches
- · Asthma or insomnia
Lastly, though this HPV virus is not always dangerous, there are a few strains which as mentioned above, can be life-threatening. And generally, these HPV strains never show any symptoms. Thus, it is absolutely necessary for every girl child to get vaccinated and every woman to get regular check-ups in order to avoid a costly and painful treatment or, in the worst case, death.
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