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The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

 

If you're a mom or dad, there's a good chance you heard news about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. In order for parents to get the facts about HPV, the vaccine and how it affects your child's health, read below for some facts and stats.

Human papillomaviruses: What you need to know

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are more than 200 viruses categorized as human papillomaviruses and more than 40 of them pass from person to person through sexual contact. There are some low-risk HPV strains that can lead to skin warts and some respiratory illnesses. However, there are around a dozen high-risk HPV strains that are responsible for cancer.

"HPV affects 1 in 4 Americans, or 80 million people."

One of the biggest issues with HPV infection is that it is a silent disease. Most people do not see or feel any symptoms once they are carrying the infection. And, after a few years, the infection can go away. However, some strains can persist for several years - and if no medical action is taken, HPV can lead to cancer. Some of the cancers that are caused by HPV include oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat), anal cancer and cervical cancer. In fact, almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, according to the NCI. The Nemours Foundation also suggests that HPV has been linked to heart disease in women.

Anyone who is sexually active can become infected with HPV, and according to the NCI, condom use has not proven to prevent the infection from spreading. This is why vaccination is so important - it's one of the easiest ways to prevent cancer.

Vaccine information

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is a very common virus that affects 1 in 4 (80 million) Americans every year. And, 14 million people - including teenagers - will become infected with HPV annually. That is why the CDC recommends that preteen boys and girls between ages 11 and 12 should be vaccinated. Not only does this simple vaccine prevent cancer, but it also gives a boost to their immune systems.

Unfortunately, because teens are less likely to get regular checkups compared to younger kids, a lot of parents are unaware of the HPV vaccine. If your preteen has not been vaccinated yet, it is important to speak with your pediatrician about the process. HPV vaccination is already reducing the occurrences of infection, according to the CDC.

a young woman consulting her doctorIt's important to speak with your pediatrician about the HPV vaccine.

There are three doses of the HPV vaccine over the course of six months. After the first shot is given, your doctor will ask for your child to come in one to two months for the second vaccination. Finally, the third vaccination is given six months after the first shot. If your child received the first or second shots when they were younger and still have not completed the full vaccination process, it's still not too late for you to complete the HPV vaccination - speak with your pediatrician about what is required.

Just because your children receive the HPV vaccine does not mean that they will not become infected. This is why regular checkups and annual pap smears for women will still be important as your child enters early adulthood. It is also important to stress that the vaccine will not prevent other sexually transmitted infections.

If you're a parent, it's important to speak with your pediatrician about getting your son or daughter vaccinated once he or she reaches the preteen stage. It's a simple way to keep your kids healthy and cancer-free. 

 
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