New vaccine protects against more strains of HPV
5/5/2015 3:38 PM
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the usual culprit that sets in motion a sequence of events that can lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus and throat. It can be transmitted by sex or through casual contact. There are more than 100 types of HPVs and some are more aggressive than others.
Depending on its virulence, they are classified as high risk or low risk. Once a person gets one type, they will never get the same type again.
For the majority of HPV types, there are no symptoms. There is currently no treatment for HPV. Our bodies typically fight it off; however, it takes a long time. Seventy percent of HPV infections resolve in 1 year and 90% resolve in 2 years.
Since it can linger on for years, transmission to others is frequent. It is estimated that 90 percent of the population is exposed to at least one type of HPV by age 25.
The consequence of HPV infection is that it can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer in a small minority. Genital warts may occur as early as a few weeks after exposure or it may take up to a year.
HPV may also cause precancer and then cancer in some people. Although there is no treatment for the virus, if you have genital warts, precancer lesions or cancer, you will require treatment.
Previously, the drug Gardasil was effective against 4 HPVs. Now there is Gardasil 9, approved by the FDA earlier this year. It is effective against 9 HPVs. A person who gets all 3 doses of Gardasil 9 over 6 months has a 90 percent less risk of getting genital warts or cervical cancer. At this point, the American Cancer Society does not recommend Gardasil 9 to those that have already received Gardasil.
The FDA has approved Gardasil 9 for all girls/women from age 9 to 26. The FDA has also approved Gardasil 9 for boys aged 9 to 15. The primary reason for the Gardasil 9 vaccine is to prevent cervical cancer.
Every year about 5,000 Americans die of cervical cancer, many at a young age. If everyone gets Gardasil 9, eventually, the number of women dying from cervical cancer should decrease from 5,000 to 500 annually.
About the author
Dr. Dody Kunda