A couple years ago, I made the decision to guard myself against HPV (human papillomavirus).
According to Merck’s Gardasil website, here are the facts about HPV: HPV is a wide spread virus that can infect most males and females in their lifetime. In fact, approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become infected each year. For many, HPV clears on its own. But for some, significant consequences may arise: cervical, vaginal, penis, anus, head, and neck cancers (oral cavity and throat). The virus often has no signs or symptoms, so many people who have HPV don’t even know it! This also means you can pass the virus to your partner without knowing it.
I am sure most of you know someone who (or you yourself) has been diagnosed with cancer. And I am sure the hope of a cure for cancer has crossed your mind. Gardasil is not a cure or treatment; however, it can prevent certain strains of cancer. Gardasil is the only human papillomavirus vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV. Gardasil offers protection against some cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and oropharyngeal. The vaccine is recommended for both males and females ages 9-26. Gardasil has been tested in over 11,000 women in the United States and around the world. This vaccine is found to be safe and effective in preventing these specific types of cancers. As stated previously, Gardasil does not treat cancer, but is a vaccine that prevents from receiving some cancers in the first place.
Gardasil is given in 3 separate injections over a 6 month period. Many insurance carriers cover the cost of the vaccine. If your insurance does not cover the Gardasil vaccine or you do not have insurance, UND Student Health offers state funded vaccine at $13.90 per dose.
A common question asked is if I am already sexually active, is it too late to get vaccinated? The answer is NO. If you are already sexually active, you may still benefit from this vaccine. If you have already been exposed to HPV, you may not have been exposed to the other types covered by Gardasil.
To me, receiving this vaccine makes sense. If you are only with one partner in your lifetime, how can you guarantee your partner isn’t carrying the virus from someone else? Being diagnosed with cancer is not a risk I’m willing to take, especially with a vaccine available proven to help prevent the disease.
I’m guarded. Are you?
For more information regarding HPV and Gardasil visit: http://www.gardasil.com