HPV Immunization For the Prevention of Cervical Cancer
There is no doubt that the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine is one of the major advances in preventive health care within the field of gynecology over recent years. Having treated countless patients for HPV-related disease (as young as age 15) I believe it is crucial that everyone is aware of the fact that the HPV infection is one of the most concerning and rapidly increasing women’s health issues today.
The potential for certain types of HPV infection to cause cervical cancer is simply a fact that cannot be overlooked. The HPV virus is extremely prevalent and can be present in a dormant state without any clinical signs or symptoms.
Often times , the woman in a relationship will be the first to present with clinical signs or symptoms of HPV (genital warts, abnormal pap smear, dysplasia) when it may have been her partner who was the source of the virus. Very often, the partner is completely unaware of the fact that he/she carries the HPV virus. Given the prevalence of HPV , it is usually not possible to establish when the virus was initially acquired.
Men also encounter medical problems relating to the HPV virus (genital warts and cancers) but far less often than women. In many cases the clinical signs are not easy to recognize in men and thus can go unnoticed.
Women’s magazines and public health information is heavily weighted towards educating women about HPV as they are statistically more likely to be the at-risk individual in a relationship where HPV is present. This makes HPV appear to be a women’s health issue in the majority of relationships when it is so clearly a mutual health concern which should be addressed in a responsible manner by both partners.
The HPV vaccination is a preventive measure and is designed to be administered prior to exposure to the virus, ideally prior to becoming sexually active. Thus an effort should be made to educate women about HPV immunization at an early age.
This article is intended to raise awareness about the concerns relating to HPV. You should consult with your primary care provider regarding any specifics about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HPV.