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Gardasil Vaccine for Men and Women – The Anti-Cancer Vaccine

Gardasil is used to prevent cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers and pre-cancers caused by HPV 16 and 18, as well as genital warts caused by HPV 6 and 11. HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. Gardasil vaccine is given in three doses 2 and 6 months after the first dose. All three doses are required for protection.

HPV is a very common virus. HPV spreads from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact. HPV can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, but it can also spread through intimate contact without having sexual intercourse. Most people who have sex will get HPV sometime in their lives; however, few people will realize they have HPV.

There is no treatment for an HPV infection. HPV that does not go away on its own can cause abnormal cells that may lead to cancer of the cervix. HPV also causes many anal cancers, as well as some cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, head, and neck.

Who should get vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society recommend that all young women between the ages of 13 and 26 can get vaccinated. The vaccines are not approved for women over 26 or recommended for pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that all young men ages 13 through 21 be vaccinated if they have not already received the 3-dose series. The vaccine is also recommended for males 22 through 26 years of age whose immune systems are weakened, who have sex with men, or who test positive for HIV.

Men and women who are protected against HPV are also less likely to pass the infection to their sex partner(s).

Where can a person get vaccinated?

Student Health Services offers the Gardasil vaccine for students. If you have received one or two doses in the past, Student Health can administer the remaining doses in the series. The vaccine series does not have to be restarted if the interval since your last dose is longer than recommended.

How much does the vaccine cost?

Many health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine, including the Haverford College Student Health Insurance. If you are interested in getting the vaccine please call Student Health Services to schedule an appointment.

How do the HPV vaccines work?

The HPV vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system. The body produces antibodies to certain HPV types, the same as if a person really had the virus.

Can the vaccines infect a person with HPV?

No, the vaccines don’t contain the live virus, so a person can’t get infected through vaccination.

How will getting vaccinated affect the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

The HPV vaccines protect a person from getting some types of HPV. They will not protect the person from getting other types of HPV or other STIs (for example chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.) Condoms should always be used, especially with new sexual partners or if a person’s partner has other sex partners.

Can a woman get vaccinated if she has had an abnormal Pap test, a positive test for HPV or treatment for cervical cancer?

Yes. She can still get vaccinated, but it may not be as effective. Women should speak with their health care providers about how much protection vaccination can provide.

Will getting vaccinated treat an existing HPV infection?

No, it will not. There is no treatment for an HPV infection. The vaccines are for prevention only.

Some facts for men and women about the Gardasil vaccine:

  • Gardasil vaccine is given in three doses 2 and 6 months after the first dose and three doses are required for protection.
  • Gardasil helps prevent genital warts but will not treat them.
  • Gardasil will not prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Gardasil will not protect against HPV types which you may have been exposed to previously.
  • You may benefit from Gardasil if you already have HPV. This is because most people are not infected with all four types of HPV in the vaccine.
  • The most common side effects of Gardasil are: pain, swelling, itching, and redness at the injection site, and fever.

Even after getting vaccinated, a person can still get other types of HPV and STIs. That’s why it’s important to:

  • Practice safe (or safer) sex. That means using condoms with all sexual partners. Condoms won’t offer complete protection, but they are the best option aside from not having sex at all (abstinence).
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking makes it harder for the body to fight viruses like HPV.

YThe staff at Student Health Services can answer your questions before you make a decision to get the vaccine. You can also be screened and treated for other common sexually transmitted infections at Student Health Services.

More information about HPV and other sexually transmitted infections is available from the CDC.

Originally posted at: http://www.haverford.edu/news/stories/62671/151