HPV is a serious sexually transmitted disease that is estimated to affect more than 20 million people in the United States.HPV is caused by the human papillomavirus. The human papillomavirus is a group of viruses that contains more than 100 different strains. Every year more and more people become infected with the disease.
Most people who are infected with HPV do not know because they have no symptoms. HPV causes genital warts of varying severity in others. Genital warts related to HPV are described as flat and smooth fleshy legions to raised cauliflower shaped lesions. Genital warts usually appear in the genital area. The warts can take weeks or even months to appear after contact with an HPV carrier. A diagnosis of genital warts is made upon visual inspection by the health care provider. Genital warts can be treated with prescribed medications or can be left to heal on their own. Left untreated, HPV can may develop into cervical cancer.
In June 2006, the CDC’s advisory committee, ACIP, recommended the use a new HPV vaccine called Gardasil. Gardasil is a vaccine manufactured by Merck for the prevention HPV in females. ACIP recommended that Gardasil be given as a routine vaccination to girls when they are 11-12 years of age. ACIP also recommended that females within the 13-26 year old age range receive the vaccination. Gardasil is safe for administration as early as age 9. The Gardasil vaccine should be given before the onset of sexual activity, but should still be taken by sexually active females. The Gardasil vaccine is given in injection form split over 3 dosages. The first does is given at a date chosen by the recipient and health care provider. The second dose should be taken 2 months after the first dose. The third and final dose should be taken 6 months after the first dose All three dosages should be completed to receive maximum benefits from the Gardasil vaccine. If a dose is missed, it is extremely important to notify your health care provider. He or she will decide when the dosage should be completed.
The Gardasil vaccine is highly effective against 4 types of HPV. Two of these types are responsible for over 70% of cervical cancer infections. The focus of the Gardasil vaccine is the prevention of HPV. Gardasil will not treat pre-existing HPV infections.
A thorough family and personal medical history should be taken prior to each dosage of Gardasil. The vaccine may not be given if certain risks factors are present. Each prospective recipient of Gardasil should inform their health care provider of any of the following conditions:
An allergy to any ingredient contained in Gardasil or an allergic reaction post Gardasil administration.
A weakened immune system due to disorders such as HIV.
A fever of more than 100 degrees
A bleeding disorder that contraindicates vaccinations in the arm
Currently on any medication including over the counter prescriptions
Is pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
The most common side effects of Gardasil vaccination include pain, redness, and welling at the injection site and fever. You should report any unusual symptoms post Gardasil vaccination to your health care provider. You should also discuss other possible side effects with your health care provider.