Home Women's HealthHuman papillomavirus HPV What you need to know about the HPV vaccine

What you need to know about the HPV vaccine

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on
HPV vaccine

The human papillomavirus, or HPV for its acronym, is the most widespread sexually transmitted disease globally, with around 100 types, of which about 40 are exclusively transmitted sexually. Due to the lack of symptoms, it is impossible to detect their presence on many occasions, so the contagion can spread when unprotected intimate relationships are maintained with several partners. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves against the high-risk types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers, types 16 and 18 while helping to fight other low-risk types. This FastlyHealarticle explains what you need to know about the HPV vaccine.

What are the types of HPV most at risk?

Among the approximately 40 types of HPV transmitted directly through sexual contact, some of them will not produce symptoms at all. They will eventually disappear from our body within a maximum of 2 years. However, a group of strains, considered low risk, will produce the most typical symptom of this condition: the presence of genital warts when contagious. At the same time, the infection with the types regarded as high risk will increase the possibility of suffering from cervical cancer and other types of cancer.

The types of HPV are:

  • Low-risk HPV can only cause slight changes in the cervix and the appearance of genital warts, but that does not increase the risk of cancer. These are types 6 and 11, the most common of all, along with types 40, 42, 43, 44, 53, 54, 61, 72, 73, 81.
  • High-risk HPV: contagion with these strains of HPV produces the formation of abnormal cells in the cervix that can lead to the appearance of cancer in this area. In this group are types 16 and 18, the most dangerous and responsible for 70% of cervical cancers, along with types 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, and 68.

What are the HPV vaccines available?

Currently, three vaccines prevent the spread of the most common and dangerous high-risk HPV viruses and some other strains. These vaccines, approved by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA for its acronym, are:

  • Gardasil: Since 2006, it has been a vaccine that prevents the spread of the HPV strains that most commonly cause uterine cancer, types 16 and 18, in addition to protecting against the most common low-risk HPV types and that they cause 90% of genital warts, 6 and 11. For this reason, it is known as a quadrivalent vaccine.
  • Gardasil 9: In addition to protecting against the four types mentioned above, this vaccine prevents the spread of 5 other high-risk types of HPV, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, which is why it is known as a nonavalent injection.
  • Cervarix: available since 2009, it is considered a bivalent vaccine, as it only protects against types 16 and 18.

These three products must be administered in 3 injections for six months.

HPV vaccines

How do HPV vaccines work?

The function of vaccines is to inject into our body substances that promote the production of antibodies that allow us to fight against a specific virus when it tries to infect us, preventing it from doing so.

In the specific case of HPV vaccines, particles very similar to the virus but without DNA are injected into our bodies. This achieves a compelling production of antibodies that fight the strains against which they must fight as long as we have not exposed ourselves before its contagion.

How effective is the human papillomavirus vaccine?

The tests carried out show that the effectiveness of vaccines ranges between 97 and 100% in people who have not been in contact with the virus before, which is why it is considered one of the most effective prevention methods against HPV in the present.

In addition, studies reveal that the protection period for people vaccinated with Gardasil is at least eight years, while with Cervarix, the duration is at least nine years. The adequate time of Gardasil 9 has not yet been verified.

At what age can I get vaccinated?

Vaccines against HPV cannot be administered at any age. You must be between 9 and 26 years old to be able to opt for this alternative. Although vaccination can begin at the age of 9 years, it is usually applied for the first time between 11 and 12 years of age. However, anyone up to 26 years of age can receive the three corresponding doses.

Vaccines HPV

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

This vaccine is routinely recommended for any woman aged 11 or 12 years before her sexual life begins to ensure adequate and complete protection against HPV. Additionally, vaccination is recommended for any man between 9 and 26 years of age who have not previously received the vaccine or who have not completed the three doses, and also for patients with a suppressed immune system who have not previously received this protection.

Are vaccines effective in people who already have HPV?

No, vaccination will not affect or protect patients who have already been infected with any of the HPV strains prevented with this measure. This is why it is recommended that vaccination be started at 11. At this stage, there is usually no risky sexual activity. Therefore, greater effectiveness will be achieved with the HPV vaccine.

For more information regarding this vaccine, we recommend consulting with your gynecologist.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to What you need to know about the HPV vaccine, we recommend that you enter our category of Female reproductive system.

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