18+ Pros and Cons of HPV Vaccine (Explained)

The human papillomavirus (HPV) affects nearly 80 million people in the United States. The virus can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or through sexual activity.

Although HPV often goes away on its own, certain types can cause medical concerns, from genital warts to cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect children and adults from HPV-related diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that preteens receive the vaccine at around age 11 or 12 years old. This ensures that they’re protected against HPV before they’re likely to possess exposure to the virus. You can get the vaccine until age 45.

Pros and Cons of Hpv Vaccine

Pros of HPV vaccination

The HPV vaccine can protect against precancerous cervical lesions

Of the 34,800 cancer cases caused by HPV per annum, 92%, or around 32,000 of these are often prevented by the HPV vaccine, consistent with the CDC. It does this by giving the body antibodies to stop being infected. This prevents warts and cancers caused by HPV. There are pap smears for ladies to detect cervical cancer, and a test to see for HPV in cervical cells before it develops into something more dangerous.

But there’s no test for men to screen for these cancers or HPV, and there’s no medical treatment for HPV itself. There are prescription medications which will eliminate warts, though warts may return after treatment is completed. Otherwise, treatment involves cutting away cells and tissue within the cervix or vagina to get rid of warts and possible precancerous cells through a procedure like LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure).

However, this might not always remove the entire problem area. The vaccine has decreased rates of infection with HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers, by 83% among girls aged 15 to 19, and by 66% among women 20 to 24.

Early results look promising

Studies looking at data from 2006to 2016 show that in the first 10 years of vaccine availability in the US, there was an 86% overall reduction, among girls ages 14 to 19, within the four sorts of HPV the vaccine protects against. Australia’s national HPV program has led to a big decline in these infections from 2007, the year the vaccine was introduced.

Over the primary six years of vaccine use, the prevalence of HPV infection fell by 86%among women 18 to 24 years aged. In Japan, where the govt subsidized the HPV vaccine program before suspending the advice for its use in 2013, the rate of infection with HPV types 16 and 18 was cut by 84.2% in women aged 18 to 24, between the prevaccine era period of 2008 to 2012 and therefore the vaccine era of 2013 to 2017.

The vaccine can lead to a reduction in genital warts

A 2019 review of studies from 14 countries, published within the Lancet found that the speed of genital warts in women decreased by 67% in those aged 15 to 19,  by 54% among women aged 20 to 24, and by 31% in women aged 25 to 29. The data were derived over a five or eight year period after the implementation of vaccines. 

According to the CDC, about 360,000 men and women in the United States are treated for genital warts each year. Genital warts are benign noncancerous growths that result from skin-to-skin contact. In other words, any direct contact with an infected area, including oral sex and heavy petting, can result in warts.

The vaccine may prevent against a rising threat: throat cancer

The CDC estimates that about 3,500 new cases of HPV-associated oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are diagnosed in women and about 15,500 are diagnosed in men annually within the us. According to the National Cancer Institute, oropharyngeal cancers are increasing annually and are now the foremost common HPV-related cancer within the US.

Risk factors for oral and oropharyngeal cancers have typically been older age (median age 62 years at diagnosis) and therefore the use of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. However, supported the available evidence, HPV infection is now considered a validated risk think about both men and ladies, even within the absence of smoking and alcohol consumption.

While current vaccines aren’t licensed to stop oropharyngeal cancers, during a 2019 study of over 1,200 girls aged 13 to 21, the prevalence of oral HPV was 83% lower in those who had received the HPV vaccination compared to those who had not. And during a study of over 2,600 men and ladies aged 18 to 33 published within the Journal of Clinical Oncology, vaccination reduced the prevalence of oral HPV by 88%. 

As study author Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, explains: Between 90% to 95% of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV-16 — the same HPV type that is currently targeted by the vaccines administered to prevent cervical cancer.

The science suggests that the vaccine is safe

In clinical trials of more than 74,000 people, potential side effects starting from fever to death occurred at an equivalent rate whether patients got a placebo or the vaccine. Deaths occurred in but 0.1% of individuals in either group, but research has yet to link deaths post-vaccine to the vaccine itself. 

The vaccine provides long-lasting protection against HPV

According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine provides good protection for a minimum of ten years. Additionally, research shows that the antibody level is far higher after vaccination than after natural infection. This is excellent news as high antibody levels usually mean longer protection. Experts predict that protection from the HPV vaccine will last for a minimum of 15 years and doubtless lifelong, so no booster is required. Having just one series of shots may hamper on potential side effects.

Cons of Hpv Vaccine

For some, potential side effects and the vaccine’s overall safety record are cause for concern

Despite the HPV vaccine’s endorsement by groups such as the National Cancer Institute and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), many physicians have hesitated to recommend it based on its potential side effects, which range from more mild (pain at the injection site, fever and fainting) to adverse events (autoimmune and neurological disorders, anaphylaxis and death).

Vaccine recipients have also reported experiencing chronic pain, chronic fatigue and sudden premature menopause.

Japan withdrew its support of the vaccine, and other countries are following suit

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan withdrew its support of the vaccine in 2013 amid reports of great side effects in girls. Although a review of complaints led experts to work out that symptoms weren’t associated with the vaccine, the Ministry has not resumed the vaccine program. (See HPV Vaccine and the Japanese Question for more details.) The vaccine has become controversial in other countries, including France, Denmark and India, also based on reports of adverse reactions to the vaccine.

The verdict is still out as to whether the vaccine is effective at preventing cervical cancer

Because the cancer takes 10 to 20 years to develop, it’s too early to seem at the effect of HPV vaccinations on cancer outcomes. “There are four million kids within the age range to urge the HPV vaccine,” says Dr. Willoughby. “But the result for those that receive the vaccine won’t be apparent for a decade or two.” Also, many doctors don’t see the necessity for the vaccine, given the effectiveness of screening tools such as Pap smears.

The recommended 3-shot series over a 6 or 12 month period is difficult for families to follow

Although safety concerns remain paramount, Dr. Willoughby believes another reason that the HPV vaccine rate is so low in this country is that the vaccine schedule isn’t exactly user-friendly for some age groups.

The CDC now recommends two doses of the vaccine (an improvement over the previous three-dose recommendation), six to 12 months apart, for children who get their first dose before their fifteenth birthday. The three-dose schedule over a six-month period is still recommended for those aged 15 to 26. In 2017, only about half 13- to 17-year-olds had received all the recommended doses of the HPV vaccine.

“The issue is that more kids start the vaccine than finish it,” he says. Although some doctors recommend the full series of shots even when the timetable isn’t followed, children (and their parents) often drop the ball on the second and third shots.

Making the Decision

When weighing whether to give your own child the vaccine, the bottom line is you have to do your homework and discuss both sides of the complicated issue with a doctor you trust. If you opt to possess your child vaccinated, write down and keep handy the dates and therefore the specifics of the vaccine, its name, the amount given as well as the doctor’s name and address.

Also, if your child is 9 or 10, you’ll always take a wait-and-see approach until more data is out there in reference to the vaccine’s safety record.

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