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Everything You Need to Know About the HPV Vaccine

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that causes skin and mucous membrane growths. In some cases, it leads to cervical cancer.

HPV is an infection that garners equal buzz in medical and social circles. Just as well, considering the virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) out there. The good news is the HPV vaccine can serve as a potent shield against HPV, protecting you from dangerous cancers and genital warts. Here’s a spotlight on its value and benefits.

What Is the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is immunization against certain types of HPV that are known to lead to cancer and genital warts. It is given in instalments, with the exact number of shots depending on the age of the person. For a person between 9 and 45 years, the vaccine is divided into 3 parts; for a child between 9 and 14, 2 shots are usually required.

The vaccine provides protection against the following types of HPV.

HPV Type                                    Significance

16 and 18                              80% of cervical cancer cases

6 and 11                                90% of genital wart cases

31, 33, 45, 52 and 58          Associated with cancer of the anus, vulva, vagina and throat

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is a golden umbrella designed to protect people between the ages of 9 and 45 from cancers and genital warts. Your doctor might recommend you wait until your child is around 11 or 12, on the threshold of puberty, to administer the vaccine, to cocoon them in protection before they advance into their sexually active years. Studies show the earlier you get the vaccine, the more effective it is. So, don’t let the thought of your child being too young hold you back from securing them against the condition. The sooner, the better.

What Are the Side Effects of the HPV Vaccine?

If you anticipate a flurry of side effects after getting the HPV vaccine, you can breathe easy. Seek comfort in knowing that the vaccine is absolutely safe and usually presents minimum side effects. So, if you spot a little redness and feel some pain at the site of the injection, hang in there and keep your chin up! This too shall pass.

Read more: Reasons to Vaccinate your child.

Can the HPV Vaccine Treat an Existing HPV Infection?

Unfortunately not. An HPV vaccine is a tool for prevention, not a cure. If you’ve already received an HPV diagnosis, speak to your doctor about seeking a treatment plan for your infection.

Does an HPV Vaccine Secure Me Against Cervical Cancer?

HPV isn’t the only cause of cervical cancer, nor does the HPV vaccine cover all types of HPV. This is why it’s important that you’re regular with your gynaecological examinations and Pap tests to keep cervical and other cancers at bay.

The HPV vaccine is like an insurance policy that gives you comprehensive cover against the most menacing forms of HPV. If you haven’t taken out your policy yet, there’s no better time than now. Go ahead and protect your most precious asset – your body – with the HPV vaccine.

Must read - What are the early warning signs of cervical cancer?

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