For many Texans, the last time they gave much thought to the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) was in 2011 when Governor Rick Perry was making his first run for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
Perry had issued an executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for young women. During a Republican candidate debate in September 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused Kerry of foisting a potentially dangerous drug on the population and then later during an interview she insinuated that the vaccine can cause mental retardation.
Where do we find ourselves four years later? Well, Rick Perry is once again running for President. Michele Bachmann has retired from Congress. And the controversy over vaccines has shifted away from Texas to California, where low rates of vaccinations in certain areas have led to some of the first domestic cases of measles transmission seen in decades.
As the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine approaches its 10 year anniversary on the market, now’s a good time to review the situation.
The vaccine has been recommended for adolescent girls and young women since 2006. And, while it’s not widely known, it has also been recommended for adolescent boys and young men, since the year 2011.
Given the controversies, it’s understandable — but unfortunate! — that the United States is nowhere near its goal of 80% vaccination rate by the year 2020.
Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases says: “I am frustrated that in 2014 four out of 10 adolescent girls and six out of 10 adolescent boys had not even started the HPV vaccine series and are vulnerable to cancers caused by HPV.”
What you need to know about HPV.
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV), commonly referred to as herpes or genital warts, is the most common sexual transmitted infection (STI) in this country, with an estimated 20 million Americans currently affected. It’s estimated that 6.2 million new cases arise each year for those ages 14 to 44.
There are more than 130 different types of HPV that have been identified. Types HPV-16 and HPV-18 are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer in women.
But HPV can also cause cancer in men, not just in women. HPV-16 and HPV-18 cause approximately 90% of anal cancers. Consequently, recommendations have been expanded to include vaccinating adolescent boys and young men to prevent anal cancer in men. This is particularly important for those men who have sex with other men, as they have significantly higher rates of anal cancer.
Which HPV vaccines are on the market and who should get them?
There are currently two HPV vaccines on the market in the US.
They are quadrivalent, marketed under the name Gardasil®, and bivalent, marketed under the name Cevarix®.
Gardasil® is recommended for females 9 to 26 years old. Cevarix® is recommended for females 10 to 25 years old.
In 2009, the FDA approved Gardasil® for prevention of genital warts in young men. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended permissive use but not routine use of the vaccine for males aged 9-26 years. It is now approved to prevent anal cancer as well.
If you have questions about these vaccines, please contact Dr. Brewton at the office today.