Question: HPV vaccine

What are your thoughts on the HPV vaccine?

Answer

The HPV vaccines were developed in order to decrease the rates of cervical cancer in women. Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus and this is only transmitted once a woman becomes sexually active. So if one could immunize her against HPV before she gets infected, theoretically she would not get cervical cancer. Unfortunately HPV has a number of variants and the vaccine only protects against the most prevalent 3 variants of the virus. This means that a woman’s risk for cervical cancer is reduced but not eliminated if she has the vaccine. There are two vaccines on the market which target different variants or strains. Demographically speaking, Cervarix is recommended for girls and Gardasil for boys (to prevent transmission), but either can be used. The reports and claims of permanent side effects from these vaccines has never been proven and were likely incidental cases, however one should always weigh up the benefits against the risks of any vaccination.

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