HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a viral infection most commonly transmitted through genital skin-to-skin contact and oral, anal, and vaginal sex. There are approximately 100 strains of the virus that exist in the HPV family but only a few of the strains cause warts and cancer, including cervical, vulvar, anal, head, throat and neck cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about 79 million are currently infected. Approximately 14 million people will become infected each year. The virus causes cervical cancer in over 10,000 women each year and 360,000 men and women will develop genital warts each year. HPV has now become one of the most common STD’s among men and women.
Merck Pharmaceutical company is now manufacturing an updated HPV vaccine called Gardasil 9. This vaccine will prevent five additional strains of (HPV) than the current (4-strain) vaccine. Gardasil 9 will protect girls and women that are between the ages of 9-26 years old from becoming infected with the HPV stains 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58, which are responsible for about 20 percent of cervical cancers. According to the FDA, adding the protection against the additional strains will help prevent up to 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers. Gardasil 9 is administered as three separate shots, with the first dose followed by a second two months later and then the third shot six months later.
Situations where the vaccine may not be effective:
- Gardasil 9 has not been demonstrated to provide protection against disease from vaccine HPV types to a person who has previously been exposed through sexual activity.
- Gardasil 9 has not been demonstrated to protect against diseases due to HPV types other than 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
- Gardasil 9 is not a treatment for external genital warts and does not protect against genital diseases not caused by HPV.
Ask your health care provider about when they’ll have access to this new vaccine.