'It's not an eliminator, it's a reducer...' FDA expands the reach of HPV vaccine

Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. So how do we protect ourselves from it and reduce the risk of cancers?

Posted: Oct. 8, 2018 6:39 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – About 80 million Americans are infected with the sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus. It’s the most common STI in the United States.

Friday, the food and drug administration approved a vaccine, Gardasil nine, for the virus.

The FDA approved it in 2014, but only for those aged nine to 26.
Now, they have expanded the use of the vaccine to be used on an older age group, 27 to 45.

Angie Millar, an LPN nurse for the crisis pregnancy center said, “It’s working on reducing the risk of cancers, HPV causing cancers.”

Certain types of this virus can cause different cancers, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects both men and women.

“Oropharyngeal cancer’s on the rise, greatly. More so in men than in women and what happens is tumors develop and it gets into their lungs,” Millar said. “So, therefore it develops in their nose and throat.”

The vaccine mainly helps to prevent high-risk strains of HPV that result in many different cancers.

Millar says that expanding the age group of people who can get the vaccine can be helpful in many different ways.

“Broadening it would protect people who had never been sexually active and been abstinent, but maybe their partner hadn’t been,” Millar said.

She says that just like a stomach virus you might from time to time, there’s not really a cure for HPV.

There’s not really a cure for it and there’s no way to 100% prevent it if you are sexually active.

“I tell people sometimes, you know if you’re walking with an umbrella over you. You’re protecting yourself so much, but part of you is still getting splashed on,” Millar explained. “So, there’s still that risk even if you’re taking precautions.”

She says that HPV is normally not easily detected. Most women can’t even get tested for it until after they’re 30.

You can find more information on the virus at the Center for Disease Control website, here.

For more information on Gardasil Nine, the vaccine, you can go here.

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