CLEARING UP MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE HPV VACCINE.Byline: SEMHAR DEBESSAI
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Mary Kelley was in her 50s and going through menopause when her gynecologist gynecologist /gy·ne·col·o·gist/ (-kol´ah-jist) a person skilled in gynecology.
A physician specializing in gynecology. discovered lesions during a routine checkup.
It was the early stages of cervical cancer Cervical Cancer Definition
Cervical cancer is a disease in which the cells of the cervix become abnormal and start to grow uncontrollably, forming tumors. .
Kelley, a Bay Area resident, had her first Pap test Pap test, Pap smear, or Papanicolaou test (păp'ənē`kəlou), medical procedure used to detect cancer of the uterine cervix. more than 30 years ago and hadn't missed her regular gynecologist visit since. For her, that always included an annual Pap -- an especially important routine to follow once a woman becomes sexually active.
Kelley's Pap tests screened for precancerous precancerous /pre·can·cer·ous/ (-kan´ser-us) pertaining to a pathologic process that tends to become malignant.
adj. abnormalities but didn't test specifically for HPV HPV human papillomavirus.
human papilloma virus
Human papilloma virus (HPV) DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. . HPV, or human papillomavirus human papillomavirus (HPV), any of a family of more than 60 viruses that cause various growths, including plantar warts and genital warts, a sexually transmitted disease. Detectable warts can be or removed, usually by chemicals, freezing, or laser, but often recur. , is a virus that causes abnormal tissue growth such as warts and is often associated with some types of cancer.
It's unclear how long Kelley carried the infection before it caused her early-stage cervical cancer.
Although the HPV vaccine wasn't available when Kelley was a girl, she's pretty sure she would have gotten it if offered.
Now that the vaccine is available, debate has emerged about whether to require that young girls be vaccinated. Health practitioners say it's safe and 100 percent effective against some of the most dangerous strains of the virus, especially when administered just before puberty, before a girl becomes sexually active. Social conservatives, meanwhile, argue that immunizing teen girls could encourage sexual activity and give them a false sense that they're protected from other STDs.
As for Kelley, she said the pros outweigh the cons -- especially because cervical cancer strikes about 11,150 women a year and causes an estimated 3,670 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society American Cancer Society,
n.pr established in 1913, this national volunteer-based health organization is committed to the elimination of cancer through prevention and treatment and to diminishing cancer suffering through advocacy, scholarship, research, . "I recommended (the vaccine) to all my nieces," she said. "There's no shame in this."
Regardless of whether you agree with vaccination, the reality is one in four women has HPV, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. .
Not all of these women will show symptoms or be affected, but "it is a very prevalent sexually transmitted disease sexually transmitted disease (STD) or venereal disease, term for infections acquired mainly through sexual contact. Five diseases were traditionally known as venereal diseases: gonorrhea, syphilis, and the less common granuloma inguinale, ," said Dr. Arjang Naim, a Los Angeles-based OB-GYN.
With all the hype surrounding the vaccine, Naim said the false sense of security associated with getting it should be the primary concern of any patient or reluctant parent. "The only concern is that if someone gets vaccinated, they will be less concerned to protect themselves (during intercourse)," he said.
Aside from still having to worry about pregnancy and other STDs, women who receive the vaccine also must understand that it "doesn't cover all the (strands) of HPV," Naim warned, just the most prevalent four: 6, 11, 16 and 18.
We asked Naim to clear up some misconceptions about the vaccine and share some useful information:
Are there any harmful side effects Side effects
Effects of a proposed project on other parts of the firm. from the HPV vaccine?
There are no current studies that show any side effects from the vaccine.
What, exactly, does the vaccine protect us against?
The vaccine only protects against (HPV) types 6, 11, 16 and 18. There are many other strands that could cause genital warts and cervical cancer, but these four are the most prevalent.
Who does the vaccine benefit the most?
Women who have not yet become sexually active. (Note: HPV can sometimes be passed through oral sex.)
What if you have been sexually active?
There is a high chance that you have been exposed to one of the HPV strands. If you are exposed to any one of the strands that the vaccine protects from, then the vaccine is useless.
Does a Pap test detect HPV?
No. A Pap tests only for cervical cancer and abnormal cells. A separate test for HPV must be administered if a Pap comes back abnormal. The results can then be negative or high- or low-risk positive. Almost 99 percent of abnormal Pap smears are caused by HPV.
So there is no way to know what strand of HPV you have?
A positive test will list a number of strands a patient may have but doesn't tell you exactly what type.
Can you be too young or too old to get the vaccine?
The general rule (as set by the makers of the vaccine) is as young as 12, and up to 35. But it is less about age and more about sexual activity and practices.
After the the initial series of three shots, do women need to come back again for another vaccination?
Right now, booster shots are not required for the HPV vaccine.
What else should women keep in mind?
There is no treatment or "cure" for the virus. You must get your yearly Pap test, with or without the vaccine.
Semhar Debessai, (818) 713-3665
elizabeth A (Member): A person may have previously contracted one strain present in the vaccine and still have others prevented! 9/6/2009 1:59 AM
"However, if a girl or woman is already infected with HPV, the vaccine will not prevent that strain of HPV from causing disease. It will protect against new infections with other strains of HPV included in the vaccine." (webmed.com)
I have asked multiple doctors whether this quote is accurate and they have said that it is: You MAY have previously contracted one of the strains prevented in the vaccine and the others are STILL preventable.
Naim states that the vaccine is "useless" if a person tests positive for HPV. This is a very important point to specify because the article itself may prevent patients from receiving the vaccine when it could potentially prevent them from getting cervical cancer. This was one of the first articles to show up when searching the HPV vaccine, is ironically misinformed and should be corrected.