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What is HPV?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus. There are approximately 80 million Americans infected with HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, 14 million new infections occur in the United States and about half of the newly infected people are 15 to 24 years old.  There are many different strain types of HPV. Some cause no harm, while others cause severe disease. For most people, the virus goes away on its own. When the virus does not go away, it cause pre-cancer and cancer of the cervix, genital warts, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer.  It can also cause cancers of the throat and neck.

Who is at risk for HPV?

Research has shown that approximately 80% of sexually active men and women will contract one or more strains of HPV before the age of 50.  Most people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms. This means they can pass on the virus to others and not know it.  Exposure can happen with any kind of sexual intimacy that involves genital contact with someone who has HPV — intercourse isn’t necessary, but it is the most common way to get the virus.  The use of condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of infection.  The only way to avoid the risk of HPV infection is to avoid all genital sexual contact.

Who should receive the HPV vaccine?

Females and males 9 through 26 years of age are eligible for the HPV vaccine.  In 2018 the FDA approved expanded use of Gardasil-9 for individuals 27-45 years old.  The recommended age for vaccination however is between 11 and 12, and is commonly given at a pediatrician’s office.  At Arbor ObGyn, we mostly vaccinate adolescents and catch up young adults who missed their initial vaccination opportunity.  We do not vaccinate pregnant women.

How does the HPV vaccine help me?

The major brand vaccine against HPV is called Gardasil-9, made by Merck.  Although the original 2006 Gardasil only vaccinated against four HPV strains, the 2015 immunization helps protect against nine strains of HPV.  These nine types are responsible for 90% of cervical cancer and genital wards.  You may benefit from the vaccination even if you already have HPV disease because most people are not infected with all nine types of the HPV contained in the vaccine.  You can still be immunized against the other strains.  This may help prevent new disease.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

The vaccination can be given in the Arbor ObGyn office.  HPV vaccine is given as an injection. Women 15 through 26 years will receive 3 doses of the vaccine.  The second shot should be given 2 months after the first shot and the third shot should be given 6 months after the first shot.

What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?

The most commonly reported side effects include swelling, pain, itching and redness at the injection site and fever.

If you have further questions about the HPV vaccine, please ask your Arbor ObGyn health care provider.
The manufacturer of Gardasil-9 has information here: www.gardasil9.com

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