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Vaccination Against HPV, Even if You Have Had HPV

Immunity, because of vaccination, is the best way we have of protecting ourselves and out children from the HPV virus and the cancers it causes, as well as protection against HPV associated genital warts. These viruses are transmitted sexually, and are still extremely common in our population. Many people will eliminate (through immunity) their infection within 2 years of getting it.

1. High risk HPV that persist is the cause of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, urethral, rectal, oral, pharyngeal, and anal cancers. HPV 16 and 18 cause 80% of these cancers.

2. Early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions also protects against HPV cancers.

3. Vaccination is the best way for women and men to protect themselves from cervical and penile cancer. Three such HPV vaccines are FDA approved. The Gardasil 9 protects against 90% of types of cancers.

4. Vulvar and vaginal cancers are also caused by high risk HPV types. While we cannot do pap smears to detect precancerous stages, examination can detect early lesions.

5. There is no approved screening test like the cervical pap smear for anal, or penile cancers, so prevention is a much better strategy than trying to screen a population for pre-cancerous lesions.

6. Only 51% of adolescents ages 13-17 are up to date on their recommended HPV vaccines. Internationally only about half of the world’s countries include HPV vaccinations in their recommended vaccine schedule.

7. There are many HPV types and not all are protected against by vaccination, an important reason to still practice safe sex.

8. Early cancers have no actual symptoms, examinations are an important way to detect cancer.

8. Vaginal and Vulvar cancers are rare, but increasing. More reason to get vaccinated against them.

9. The vaccine has both gotten stronger and easier to administer. Getting us closer to the dream of eliminating cervical cancer. Gardasil 9 is easier to administer as now some physicians are requiring only 2 doses instead of 3 to be protected.

10. We have known for many years, since the earliest vaccine research, that the vaccine protects boys as well from both warts and genital cancers, and that protecting both boys and girls helps protect their partners in the future.

11. There is virtually 100% protection of the HPV type you get in this vaccine if you have not yet been exposed to that virus already. The first vaccine protected against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil 9 covers these as well as types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. These latter five are currently responsible for roughly one in five cases of cervical cancer. In the earlier vaccine there was some cross protection of other viruses, and since there are 15 HR types of HPV we can project some cross protection there as well.

12. There has been a lot of new research that indicates women who have had moderate or severe dysplasia, of the cervix or the vulva can get reduced risk of recurrence if they get the HPV vaccination.

13. A new paper published in the May 2020 Jouranal of OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY states that women should be considered for vaccination if they have had a treatment for CIN 2 or greater. The authors are calling for more study.

14. There are vaccines against HPV indicated from ages 9-45. Make a telemedicine appointment to discuss whether this would benefit you.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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