Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Information
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) We hear it and we shiver a little, but your chances of catching it are high. Almost all sexually active men and woman are infected at some time during their lifetime. HPV is a virus that infects the skin, usually through sexual contact, causing cells to grow abnormally. Sometimes these appear as warts.
Surprisingly, the facts about HPV are not as well known as they should be. Example, did you know that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the principal cause of Cervical Cancer? HPV is transmitted through sexual contact and it is possible to have the virus without knowing. This form of cancer originates in the cells of the cervix when abnormal cells begin to develop and multiply out of control. But HPV can cause other types of cancer in the anal genital region.
When should I get vaccinated?
The HPV vaccine can be administered at any age from 9 – 26 years. Since HPV is responsible for up to 99% of Cervical cancers and lots of other cancers in men and womem, the vaccination is a prime factor in prevention.
Common HPV Vaccination Side Effects
“Gardasil”, the vaccine commonly used to prevent HPV, can cause certain side effects, including:
- pain, swelling, redness, bruising or itching where the shot was given
- mild headache, fever, dizziness
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
- runny nose, sore throat, cough
- tooth pain, joint or muscle pain.
Only in rare instances have there been more serious side effects, from swollen glands, fever & chills, chest pain, severe stomach pain to shortness of breath. Please contact our Travel Health Clinic or your personal physician without delay, should you experience any of these symptoms. If you have any allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, tongue or throat, contact Emergency Medical Services at once.
How long does the immunity last?
The precise duration of the immunity following the HPV vaccination is currently not known, and a pap smear at least once every three years is essential for early detection of possible Cervical Cancer.
Common Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
As is the case with many other forms of cancer, Cervical Cancer produces few or no symptoms, and can remain undetected without regular screening. The best course of prevention is vaccination, screening and early detection.
How to minimise the risk of cervical cancer?
Apart from regular screening and vaccination, lifestyle plays an important role in avoidance of the threat of Cervical cancer. For example, among the factors that are known to increase your risk are:
- using birth control pills for an extended period (over 5 years)
- having several sexual partners.