Currently in England, both girls and boys are offered the HPV vaccine between 12 and 13 years of age. Vaccinating before our young adults become sexually active is very important but not necessary.
Although HPV is usually passed from person to person by sexual contact, studies have found HPV around fingers, hands, mouths and genitals (providing all the more reason to protect teenagers!)
Many of our patients ask about the HPV vaccine for adults, so here we cover off some of the questions we are regularly asked about HPV.
Can Adults have the HPV Vaccine?
Adults who are already sexually active, or have already contracted the Human Papillomavirus may find the vaccine is less effective in preventing the contraction of the same HPV strain again later in life.
However, it can protect you from other strains and potentially reduce your risk of HPV-related cancers.
High-risk HPV is more likely to cause cancer.
99.7% of cervical cancers are caused by infection with high-risk HPV.
Your immune system can usually fend off high risk HPV, leaving your body to recover without treatment. BUT, in some cases the Human Papillomavirus does not leave the body and over the years the infection transforms normal cells into precancerous lesions or cancer.
HPV Related Cancers include –
- Cervical cancer
- Oral cancer
- Cancers of the head and neck
- Anal cancer
- Vulvar and vaginal cancers
- Penile cancer
Signs and Symptoms of HPV
HPV is very common, however, there are 100 different strains which can cause variation in symptoms.
Most HPV strains can cause common warts or verrucas which appear around the hands and feet. Gential HPV can affect the head, neck and anus as well as produce genital warts.
Unfortunately, high risk HPV normally goes undetected. That’s why regular checkups are so important.
The lack of symptoms, leave most people not knowing they are infected, making it even more important to be immunised against the virus.
Am I at high risk of HPV or cancer?
There are some who are at greater risk than others and we would highly recommend the HPV vaccination to those people who fall into one of these categories –
- Men who have sex with men
- Transgendered people
- Those with a large number of sexual partners
- A weakened immune system due to –
- Transplant Recipients
- Autoimmune Diseases
How does the HPV vaccine work?
Currently in the clinic we use the new Gardasil 9 Vaccine. Gardasil 9 is currently only available privately in the UK.
Unlike Gardasil which is used in the NHS and only protects against 4 types of HPV, Gardasil 9 protects against 9 sub-types of HPV including 7 high risk strains and will protect against approximately 90% of cervical cancers.
Like all immunizations which protect us against viruses, Gardasil 9 stimulates the body to produce antibodies that bind to the virus and prevent it from infecting cells.
The vaccine does not contain any live virus and does not cause cancer or other HPV-related illnesses.
Gardasil 9 was studied in more than 13,000 females and males before being made available. The studies showed the vaccine was almost 100% effective and so it was registered for use.
Who should not have the HPV vaccination?
There is no proof that any one person is not eligible to have the HPV vaccine however, it is best to consult your doctor first if you are –
- Pregnant or trying for a baby
- Suffering from a bleeding disorder
- Suffering from allergies
It is also best to check yours or your children’s medical history as you may already be up to date with your vaccinations.
How much does it cost?
Gardasil is provided free in schools for girls and boys aged 12–13 years as part of the National HPV Vaccination Program.
However if you want to further protect yourself or your child then we can provide you with the Gardasil 9 vaccine.
It is important to note, the HPV vaccination does not protect against other STI’s such as Chlamydia. Safe sex, even if you are immunised, is always important.