Prevention is better than cure! A phrase my mother always told me coming up as a child when it came to everyday decision making. Who would know these few words can have such significant meaning throughout my adult life, and incorporating it into my patient education.
As we’re approaching the end of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, I encourage the parents of today to vaccinate their young ladies with the HPV vaccine. Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine can be used to vaccinate both male and females. The vaccines consist of 3 doses. The 1st dose is usually given at age 11, 2nd dose 4 weeks from the 1st, and the 3rd dose is given 6months from the initial dose. There are over 30 strains of the HPV virus. This vaccine helps to eliminate some risk in cervical cancer HPV 16 and 18 account for approximately 68% of squamous cell cancers. Why should males receive this vaccine too you ask…don’t forget that all genital warts (condyloma) are caused by HPV, and approximately 90% are associated with HPV types 6 and 11. The vaccine isn’t recommended for adults mainly because exposure to one or more of these strains has occurred already. Overall in the United States, an estimated 6.2 million new HPV infections occur every year among persons aged 14–44 years. Of these, 74% occur among those aged 15-24 years. Modeling estimates suggest that >80% of sexually active women will have acquired genital HPV by age 50 years. Everyone situation is different. If you’re an adult and have had 1 partner, chances are you can receive the vaccine. Again consult with your provider for your specific needs.
Some might argue that it’s too young to speak to your child on these issues, i beg to differ. They are exposed to sex everyday in music, on TV’s and when they go to school. The majority of NYC public high schools have what’s called the “CATCH” program and many uninvolved parents aren’t aware that their daughters are being given birth control pills, IUD’s, and being referred for abortions if needed all during “class time”. Unless your child will be sworn to a life of celibacy, be proactive and help to eliminate some risk when it comes our future. The journey to having great sexual health starts with education, especially education of our youth so that they can make better decisions as they journey into adulthood.