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Human Papilloma Virus “HPV” Vaccine

Human Papilloma virus is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts, cervical cell abnormalities (abnormal pap smears), and cervical cancer. Although more than strains of the virus exist, types 6, 11, 16 and 18 are responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. Merck pharmaceuticals with FDA approval now have a vaccine against strains 6, 11, 16 and 18.

Who can get the vaccine?
The FDA has authorized the vaccine for women ages 9-26. Because it is new, most insurance companies are sticking to this guideline but the age range may expand in the future. Remember that the intention of this vaccine is to prevent cervical cancer from developing by arming the body with strain specific antibodies. These antibodies would be in effect before sexual activity starts if given early enough in the woman’s life. The protective effect was over 95% effective in girls vaccinated before sexual activity started. Because a protective effect was also noted in girls already with the virus, we recommend the vaccine to prevent the progression of the already existing cervical cell abnormality.

Worldwide Cervical Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. There are over 500,000 new cases per year and over 275,000 deaths annually from cervical cancer. This vaccine if given properly will substantially reduce these statistics and save lives and health care dollars.

Concern for the Nogales and Santa Cruz Families
My concern for the families in this area is a very conservative attitude created by religious beliefs and a lack of formal teaching on sexuality. Last week I spoke to the parents of a 15 year old girl about the vaccine and they were both offended that I would bring up such a topic. They thought this vaccine would encourage their daughter to become sexually active. This young girl will not have the chance to benefit from the vaccine until it is too late. The only way to get through to the parents and family is education. I strongly encourage all of you in the community that have children ages nine and up to make an appointment with me, your pediatrician, or general doctor to discuss this topic.

The vaccine is given intramuscularly in the arm or gluteus maximus every 2 month times three doses. If it is not covered by your insurance company, I sell the vaccine $200.00 per vaccine. This is such and important advance in medicine that you will hear a lot about in the upcoming months. Please call for more information.