Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

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The IQ Solutions’ Epi team (Suite 714) would like to talk a bit about the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. The HPV vaccine is designed to protect people from the virus, which causes almost all cervical cancers in women and has been linked to other forms of cancer affecting both men and women. Thankfully, the vaccine is highly effective in protecting people from getting HPV and has recently been approved for use in males (previously only approved for females). The HPV vaccine works best when administered before any chance of being infected; thus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it should be administered to boys and girls around ages 11 to 12. This timing is to ensure that the vaccine has time to work well before they come in contact with the virus. If you are caring for someone who fits in this age range or a teen who hasn't been vaccinated yet, talk to your doctor about getting them vaccinated. It’s important to know that even with vaccination, you can still get HPV and potentially cervical cancer; so remember, it’s still important to attend routine cervical cancer screenings and doctor checkups.

Epidemiology of HPV:  The Cause of Over 70 Percent of Cervical Cancers

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is estimated to affect 79 million Americans (about a quarter of the U.S. population). An estimated 14 million new cases occur each year, approximately half of which occur in 15- to 24-year-olds. The primary risk factors for infection are related to sexual behavior such as number of sexual partners; other factors such as genetics do not seem to change the risk of infection. This means that all sexually active individuals are at risk of infection. If symptomatic, the most noticeable symptom of infection is warts, although for most individuals, the warts and the infection will resolve spontaneously, unlike other STIs like herpes or HIV. In a small number of cases, individuals will become persistently infected with HPV; this is the largest risk factor for cervical cancer. In fact, HPV is believed to cause well over 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, and 99 percent of cervical cancers also have HPV. HPV is associated with over 90 percent of anal cancers, 71 percent of vulvar, vaginal, or penile cancers, and 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers. However, there is now a vaccine to prevent HPV and, by extension, cervical cancer.

The above statistics for HPV were found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/hpv.html.


The Vaccine

There are three commercially available vaccines to prevent HPV: Gardasil-9, Gardasil, and Cervarix. They all protect from the two most cancer-causing strains of HPV: 16 and 18. Gardasil is designed to protect from two additional strains, and Gardasil-9 is designed to protect from an additional seven strains. Cervarix has been approved for use in females ages 9 to 26, whereas Gardasil and Gardasil-9 have been approved for males and females ages 9 to 26. The vaccines are taken in three doses: 1, 2, and 6 months after the initial dose. These vaccines have all been found to be safe both in clinical and prelicensure trials.

The HPV vaccine is designed to protect people from the virus, which causes almost all cervical cancers in women and has been linked to other forms of cancer affecting both men and women. 

For more information, you can visit the CDC website for: 

General Vaccine Information: http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine.html

Detailed Safety Information: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv-vaccine.html.


The CDC recommends all preteens (ages 11–12), boys and girls, be vaccinated. This age is when the vaccine is most effective. In addition, unvaccinated young adults should receive the vaccine if they are below a certain age, 26 for females and 21 for males. Males who have sex with males under the age of 26 are also recommended to be vaccinated as are all individuals with weakened immune systems (such as those with HIV).

The CDC also recommends that women be screened for cervical cancer through the Pap test. This includes people who have received the vaccine, as it protects from most but not all types of cancer causing HPV. HPV causes other cancers that do not have routine tests associated with them, so it’s important to attend regular checkups with your doctor. As with any type of cancer, early detection is important for timely diagnosis and treatment. And while the viral infection cannot be treated, the symptoms HPV causes can be treated.

The CDC has an FAQ for parents about HPV and the vaccine at

http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/questions-answers.html as well as information on

HPV-related cancer screening at http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/screening.html. 


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Cindy Trinh's picture
February 01, 2016
Valuable information to share to public Jimmy. Great job

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