Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Information: What is HPV Infection & Vaccination Side Effects

The newly added HPV vaccination has been fairly controversial and many questions may surface when being faced with the option of vaccinating against it. First of all, what is HPV, and how is it contracted? Second of all, what is the human papillomavirus vaccine, and what are the vaccination side effects? Are there risks involved in receiving the human papillomavirus vaccine? Is the human papillomavirus vaccine effective against contracting the diseases associated with HPV infection? Finally, at what age is the HPV vaccine given and who should avoid it?

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease that occurs in the genital, mouth or throat region. It is caused by the human papillomavirus. There are over 100 various strains of the human papillomavirus and more than 30 are sexually transmitted.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 90% of all cases of HPV infection clear up within two years naturally. In the other 10%, the human papillomavirus may cause genital warts. Other strains of HPV may lead to cervical cancer, and less commonly, cancer of other areas including the tongue, tonsils, or throat.

Symptoms of human papillomavirus include genital warts, which start as a bump or group of bumps near the genital area. Symptoms of cervical cancer, as well as other HPV related cancers, typically do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage.

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When is the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Administered

There are two types of human papillomavirus vaccines available, Cervarix and Gardasil. Although both vaccines are fairly similar, only Gardasil provides extra protection against HPV types 6 and 11.

Young adults between the ages of 11 and 12 years old are recommended to receive the HPV vaccination in a series of three doses. The second dose is typically given at least one month after the first, while the third is administered at least six months after the first. The HPV vaccine can still be given between the ages of 13 and 26 if not administered as a pre-teen.

Effectiveness of Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

According to the CDC, the human papillomavirus vaccine has been deemed to be effective in reducing the occurrences of both genital warts and cervical cancer related to the human papillomavirus. It is imperative to receive all three doses for proper protection.

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Side Effects and Risks

The CDC has conducted testing of the HPV vaccination in thousands of individuals world-wide with no serious side effects resulting. Pain at the shot location, along with fever, headache and nausea are all considered common side effects.

Pregnant women should not receive the human papillomavirus vaccination. Those under the age of nine and over the age of 26 should not be vaccinated against HPV. Any allergies to the human papillomavirus vaccine should be disclosed to a physician before continuing with the standard immunization schedule.

A local physician should be consulted when determining the best course concerning the HPV vaccination. All information provided is for educational purposes only and should not substitute the advice of a physician.

Mark Riegel, MD

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

Yes. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. The human papillomavirus is the cause of the infection.

How is it treated?

The virus itself has no treatment. However, various treatments exist for the genital warts it sometimes causes.

Recovery Time

As there is no treatment for the virus, it will most likely be carried for life, and thus there is no time line for recovery.

Can I have sex?

Yes. However, partners should be informed of your condition and condoms should always be used.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. There are many strains of HPV and even if you carry one strain, you can still be infected with another.