Protect your daughter from cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
It is a virus that is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Right now, about 20 million women and men are infected with HPV in the United States, most of which are young people in their late teens and early 20s.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. About 40 of these can cause genital warts and precancerous changes. HPV often has no symptoms, so many people do not know they have the disease.
Two vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to guard against the HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer. Both have been recommended for girls and women age 9 to age 26 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccination is given as a series of three shots over a six-month period, usually at age 11 or 12 when most children are getting other vaccinations. Although these shots should be given before a person is sexually active for full effectiveness, they can still be effective for people who are sexually active, so young adults are also encouraged to get vaccinated. The most common side effect is soreness or reddening of the skin where the shot is given.
Gardasil, which has been shown to also protect against the HPV types that cause most genital warts, is also approved for males age 9 to age 26.
Contact your doctor, who can answer your questions about the HPV vaccine and whether it is appropriate for your child.