Vaccines

As of this moment there are 3 types of vaccines for HPV: Cervarix, Silgard (Gardasil) and Gardasil 9. These vaccines have been approved by the FDA, EMA (European Medicines Agency) and Health Canada. There are medical projects that are working to provide these vaccines to women and girls who are living in low income countries. Gardasil has been approved for people between 9 years of age to 26 years of age while Cervarix has been approved for females between the ages of 10 years and 25 years old.

These particular vaccines are able to protect against HPV strains that cause most cervical cancers as well as genital warts. There have been recent studies that show that vaccines like these can help to protect against anal cancer, vaginal cancers and vulvar cancer in women. However, these HPV vaccines will not protect against less common strains, so it is best to have regular exams to look for cancer signs.

It is recommended that these vaccines be administered before first sexual contact. This will help to develop an immune response before ever being exposed to HPV. People who have HPV, may actually benefit from the vaccines to protect them against other strains. It is recommended by the CDC that both sexes get the vaccine. It is often provided to children starting at 11 years of age, but it has been approved for use as young as the age of 9.

In the UK, Gardasil is provided to girls who are 12 and up. The NACI in Canada recommends that women from ages of 9 to 45 and men ages 9 to 26 get vaccinated with Gardasil. Ceravix is recommended for ages 9 to 45.

If you are pregnant, you should not get the vaccine. Yet, it is safe to get the vaccine while you are breastfeeding. You should talk to your doctor about these vaccines to see which one would be right for you. There may be some assistance programs that can help you to afford the HPV vaccine.

There are recent studies that have shown that HPV vaccines are great to prepare the body to produce strong immune responses and there are some countries that have reduced the number of doses that are needed. Children between the ages of 9 and 13 will often have stronger responses to the vaccine. The EMA recently approved vaccination with Cervarix in only 2 doses. The CDC recommends that people under 15 get only 2 doses, but people aged from 15 to 26 receive 3 doses of this vaccine.

In order to lower how many injections are needed, the development of newer HPV vaccines include adding the HPV vaccine to other vaccines such as mixing it with measles in a single shot.

Screenings should be done regularly!

Cervical screenings, pelvic and anal exams should be done regularly and are quite important. While they may not be able to prevent HPV issues, they can help to catch dysplasia and warts before they end up worse and cause bigger issues.

Even though women who have HIV have a higher risk for getting cervical cancer, 1 in 4 women who have HIV didn’t have a cervical screening done yearly as it is recommended. There are 2 screenings that are recommended within the first year when a woman is diagnosed with HIV. This is important for HIV positive women to get yearly screenings and follow up so that problems are caught before cancer happens. The follow up often involves seeing a gynecologist who will look at your cervical cells using a microscope. This helps them to find any abnormal cells that could cause cancer. The less painful, cheaper, and healthier option is to take care of prevention instead of treatment.

Condoms

Whenever a condom is used correctly, then it can help to reduce the risk of spreading HPV. Condoms will not completely protect someone from HPV.

Not Smoking

If you smoke, it is best that you try to quit as smoking has been shown to increase the risks of developing various types of cancer, which include anal and cervical cancer. You should talk to your doctor about quitting smoking as there are plenty of tools that can help you to quit, as well as there being plenty of support and information online.

It is about Self Care

If you have HIV, then HPV can be quite serious. Since there are hardly ever any symptom, getting a regular exam can help your doctor to find any problems and get them treated early enough to keep you in the best of health as possible.

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

Yes. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. The human papillomavirus is the cause of the infection.

How is it treated?

The virus itself has no treatment. However, various treatments exist for the genital warts it sometimes causes.

Recovery Time

As there is no treatment for the virus, it will most likely be carried for life, and thus there is no time line for recovery.

Can I have sex?

Yes. However, partners should be informed of your condition and condoms should always be used.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. There are many strains of HPV and even if you carry one strain, you can still be infected with another.