EXCLUSIVE: The importance of HPV VACCINE and why it's a gift to your daughter

Being a parent of a teenage girl, it is imperative to be aware of the importance of the HPV vaccine in her life. It helps in protecting teenage girls against infection by certain strains Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
EXCLUSIVE: The importance of HPV VACCINE and why it's a gift to your daughter
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Cervical cancer is preventable cancer, and two important means of prevention are
HPV VACCINE & PAP TEST. India accounts for nearly 1/4th of the world’s cervical cancer-related deaths with 60,078 deaths and 96,922 new cases in the year 2018. There is a huge gap between these statistics in India and other developed nations for TWO simple reasons - poor acceptance and lack of awareness.

Being a parent of a teenage girl, it is imperative to be aware of the importance of the HPV vaccine in her life. It helps in protecting teenage girls against infection by certain strains Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is responsible for about 90% of cervical and anal cancers and 70% of the vaginal and vulval cancers, 90% of anogenital warts, 70 % of oropharyngeal cancers and more than 60% of penile cancer in men. Widespread immunization of teenage girls with the HPV vaccine is known to reduce this cancer-causing HPV infection rate by 86% in the USA. Thus, immunising your daughter with HPV vaccine before her 11th or 12th birthday would be a great gift you can think of.

If you want to prevent your daughters from this disease, the only way is to vaccinate them. This vaccination starts as early as 9 years of age. Additionally, on-going screenings and Pap smear test is an effective way to prevent & early detection of this type of cancer.

There are about more than 150 different strains of HPV virus of which around 14 strains are called HIGH-RISK TYPES mainly responsible for cancer at various sites like cervix, vulva, vagina, oropharynx, perianal and penis in men. Genital HPV infection is a rather very common STD referred to as ‘common cold of genital tract’. The infection mostly remains asymptomatic. But with good immunity and healthy sexual practices, 90 % of these infections get cleared spontaneously and do not require any treatment. When the HPV is caused by high-risk strain and if it persists for over years then it causes cancer. This prolonged period of incubation to the precancerous and cancerous stage is used in cancer screening strategies of prevention or early-stage detection.

Adolescents are at a greater risk of contracting STDs than adults due to a variety of reasons, and these STDs do have a long-term impact on individual health as seen by the rising number of couples struggling to conceive, ectopic pregnancies and cancer we are referring here - cervical cancer. But thanks to science and technology, continuous efforts are being made on this front such as adopting new methods of STD prevention, detection, and treatment. One such intervention is HPV vaccination.

HPV   vaccine   available   in India is of two types -  Bivalent  (Cervarix)  and quadrivalent (Gardasil) effective against 2 and 4 HPV strains respectively which account for more than 70% cervical cancer-causing strains. Developed countries have a Nano valent vaccine (protects against 9 strains). The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls between 9 to 26 years of age {before a person is sexually active} and the recommended dose is - 2 doses (0, 6 months) between 9 to 15 years and 3 doses (0,1-2,6 months) between 16 to 26 years. In developed countries, all the boys are also given HPV shots. But it is important to know that Gardasil does not protect against all types of HPV, so females who are vaccinated still need to have regular Pap smears once in 3 years from 21 years of age. Thus, HPV vaccine is not a replacement of Pap test but a complement to reduce the cervical cancer burden in the society.

Across the globe safety of HPV vaccine is proven beyond doubt. Overall, every vaccine does carry some side-effects with it but that is only a sign that conveys it is effectiveness. These side effects usually are considered mild and range from soreness, swelling to redness at the injection site and rarely giddiness.

Cervical cancer being a preventable one, we can dream of eliminating this cancer from our society and prevent our mothers dying of this cancer by just two simple and effective means - HPV vaccine and Pap test. Being a responsible parent, you have a role to play to turn this dream into reality - ‘Give a gift of the HPV vaccine and be a role model.’

About the author: By Dr Manjula Patil, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, HRBR, Bangalore

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Anonymous 3 months ago

Watch Vaxxed II before taking this vaccine.