The human papillomavirus or HPV refers to a group of more than one hundred fifty viruses related to each other. Each virus in this group is given a number which is used to identify its type. Some types of HPV causes genital warts while other types cause cancer. Both men and women are affected by these viruses and can develop cancer of the throat/mouth and rectum/anus. Women may also develop vaginal, cervical or vulvar HPV cancers while men can also develop penile HPV cancer.
HPV is easily transmitted through contact of the skin. If you have oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who has the HPV virus, it can be transmitted to you as well. It may be hard to believe but this virus is so common that nearly all men and women contract it at some point in their lives. Most men and women who contract this virus are lucky in that it goes away without resulting in any serious health problems but there are quite a few men and women who are not that lucky. The virus remains and leads to serious health problems such as genital warts and the types of cancer previously mentioned.
Because HPV is so common a vaccine was develop to prevent men and women from contracting the virus. This vaccine is administered in 84 countries and immunisation for HPV is taken up by 90% of parents. Many parents are choosing to vaccinate their daughters (those between the ages of 15 and 25 years); however, there are some parents who do not opt for the vaccine for their daughters. There are some controversy surrounding the vaccine. It is believed by some that people get seriously ill after receiving the HPV vaccination. All of the cases of serious illness after receiving the vaccination have been investigated by a number of authorities such as the World Health Organization, the Centre for Disease Control in the United States and the European Medicines Agency. They could not find evidence between the illnesses and the HPV vaccination.
It remains a fact that without the vaccination, most people will be infected by the HPV once they become sexually active and some of them will develop cancer because of the infection. With the HPV vaccination young women today have the opportunity to avoid developing cancer that can kill them yet HPV vaccination is still controversial with parents. The question now is should women take the vaccine and avoid getting infected with HPV but at the same time risk developing a chronic illness, which is not likely since that there is no proof of the vaccination causing chronic illness? Or should they choose not to take the vaccination and risk developing a life threatening disease, which is very likely because they will contract the HPV virus which may develop into a life-threatening cancer?
It can be said that the NHS supports the HPV vaccination since that it offers the vaccination for free to girls between the ages of 12 – 18 years. The vaccination is administered in schools and uses a vaccine called Gardasil which specifically protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. These four types of HPV are known for causing genital warts and cervical cancer. The vaccine is not administered to boys; however, by taking the vaccination, girls are indirectly protecting boys. If you are a parent, it may be wise to take the NHS advice on HPV vaccination and have your daughters partake in the NHS vaccination program. While the NHS vaccination program is mainly for girls, it does not mean that males cannot take the vaccination. The vaccine is now available at high street pharmacies for both men and women. You can click here for more information on where to get vaccinated.
You may be wondering if screening is still necessary if you have received the HPV vaccination. The answer to your question is quite simple. Screening is still necessary, even if you have received the vaccination. As stated earlier, the vaccination covers specific types of HPV. These are the high risk strains of HPV. The vaccination does not cover all one hundred fifty types of HPV. This is why screening is still necessary.
Did you know that screening for HPV is now available online via self-collection samples? That’s right! You do not need to go to the doctor to get screened. You simply need to order your test online and the self-collection kit will be sent to you. Once you received it and have collected the sample following the instructions received, you will return the sample in a pre-paid envelop. The sample will be screened and the results will be made available online in about five days.