Sunday 16 April 2017

HPV CAUSES CANCERS that a vaccine can prevent

HPV is short for human papillomavirus. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and refers to a group of 150 different viruses. The majority of sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV infection at some point in their lives. Most cases resolve without symptoms or treatment, but some persistent infections can cause health problems, including genital warts and cancers.  About 20 million people in the United States, most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.

Not only does HPV cause almost all cervical cancers in women, it also responsible for other types of cancer.  HPV causes mouth/throat cancer, as well as anal cancer in both women and men. HPV can cause cancers of the vulva and vagina in women, and cancer of the penis in men. In the United States each year, there are about 17,600 women and 9,300 men affected by HPV-related cancers. Most of the HPV infections that cause these cancers could be prevented with vaccination.

HPV-related cancers can be devastating. Jacquelyn, a cancer survivor and mother of two preschoolers, shares her story. Soon after her second child was born, Jacquelyn was diagnosed with cervical cancer and needed a total hysterectomy.  “My husband and I had been together for 15 years, and we were planning to have more children—that isn’t going to happen now,” says Jacquelyn.

Although they caught Jacquelyn’s cervical cancer early, she still has medical appointments taking time away from her family, friends and work. “Every time the doctor calls, I hold my breath until I get the results. Cancer is always in the back of my mind.”

HPV vaccines offer the greatest health benefits to individuals who receive all three doses before having any type of sexual activity. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys.

HPV vaccines are given in a series of 3 shots over 6 months.  It is very important to complete all 3 shots to get the best protection. More than 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given out, and vaccine studies continue to show that HPV vaccines are safe.

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