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Human Pappilloma Viral Infections (HPV)

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The highest incidence and deaths from HPV occur in the Southeastern U.S. The FDA has just released a vaccine for four of the most common sub-types of HPV that cause both the genital warts and cervical cancer. The vaccine is intended for use in all females ages 9-26 but routine usage is now recommended to start at 11 or 12 years of age and consists of three injections. The second dose should be given two months after the first and the third 6 months after the second.
The vaccine covers HPV subtypes 6 and 11 which are the ones primarily responsible for 90% of genital warts and subtypes 16 and 18 which are the most common ones responsible for about 76% of cervical cancers.

Why should I get the vaccine and just how prevalent is this disease? The answers are alarming! The more sex partners you have the more likely you are to get it. HPV was detected in 14.3 % of women ages 18-25 with one sex partner. Two partners increased your risk to 22% and 31% with more than two partners. The following data will probably shock you as much as it did me. According to the National Survey of Family Growth 24% of girls are sexually active by age 15. Nope that’s not a typo. 40% by the age of 16 and 70% by age 18. HPV is associated with about 50% of vulvar squamous cell cancers and most vaginal cancers are positive for HPV. Almost 90% of anal squamous cell cancers are associated with HPV.

Current treatments include freezing the virus, burning it electrically, laser therapy, surgical excision and blotting the lesions with Podophyllin all of which only control the lesions and none are curative. Condoms help but early abstinence cures. In my opinion every woman should get screened with her annual next PAP smear and continue to get annual PAP smears. The vaccine has been established to be effective for about 5 years and long term studies are underway.

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