The NP Answers Your FAQ: What is HPV and Gardasil Vaccine?
There has been quite a bit of recent media attention given to HPV, which is the genital human papillomavirus (wart virus) and the new HPV vaccine. For those of you who may not know, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States and the most common cause of abnormal PAP smears. In 2005, the Center for Disease Control estimated that 20 million men and women in the United States were infected!
Most HPV infections don’t cause symptoms and go away on their own. Certain types of HPV may cause abnormal PAP results and lead to cervical cancer in women. Every year in the United States about 10,000 women get cervical cancer and 3,700 die from it. The most common cause of abnormal PAP smear results is due to HPV infection!
This past June 2006 a new vaccine, Gardisil, was approved by the FDA. This vaccine is administered in 3 injections over 6 months and can prevent most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer. This is a VERY hopeful breakthrough in the fight against cervical cancer! I encourage all women age 26 and under to consider protecting herself from cervical cancer by obtaining the Gardisil vaccine.
One FAQ that our students ask is “Will Gardisil help me if I already have HPV?” The answer is YES!
You may benefit from GARDISIL even if you already have HPV. This is because most people are not infected with all 4 types of HPV which are prevented by the vaccine.
Another FAQ is “Should the New Vaccine be given to Males?”
We know the new vaccine will prevent genital warts in both sexes, however males are not included in the current licensure application at this time. Studies in males are in progress and when this study data is available, recommendations will be made for males about receiving this vaccine.
The medical providers, nurses and health educators at the Student Health and Counseling Service clinic would be happy to answer any questions you have about Gardasil. We are currently offering this vaccine to students who qualify. Please call our office to find out more about Gardisil and/or to schedule an appointment to receive this immunization series.
Kathleen Blattner, FNP