Doctors since the 1950s have made a correlation between cancer of the cervix and a viral infection. However, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Harold zur Hausen, M.D., a virologist at Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, discovered Human Papilloma Virus 11 or HPV-11 that was present in cervical cancer samples he was studying. (Smith, 2014) Other HPV viruses have been discovered over the years and have been linked to cancers of the cervix, anal, throat, vaginal and penis among others. (National Cancer Institute: HPV and Cancer, 2015) In 2006 a new vaccine was a game changer on the scene in the fight to prevent infections and cancers caused from HPV. Gardasil, Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus (Types 6/11/16/18) Recombinant Vaccine, was approved for use in girls and women between the age of 9 and 26. (Human Papillomavirus (HPV), 2016)
In October of 2018 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the most current version of Gardasil, Gardasil 9, for use in people ages 27 to 45. However, there are some important things to keep in mind as a patient when considering this vaccine.
- Gardasil 9, protects people from nine strains of HPV and over 90 percent of possible HPV-caused cancers
- If you have already been exposed to these nine strains, as most adults in the 27 to 45 year range have, then Gardasil 9 vaccine won’t offer you protection.
- However, if there are some of those nine strains you haven’t been exposed to then the Gardasil 9 will offer you protection against those particular strains.
- Most HPV infections go away on their own including the cancer causing strains.
There is some conflicting data regarding the effectiveness of Gardasil and people with a history of HIV/AIDS. (Ryan, 2018) As with all vaccines and health concerns patients should consult with their physicians in making a decision regarding the best course of action regarding their health. So if you are between the ages of 9 through 45 and are interested in getting the Gardasil 9 vaccine you should schedule an appointment with your medical provider and discuss the pros and cons of being vaccinated for HPV.
Authored by: Scott Duncan-Batson, BSBM, LVN, Clinic Manager at Prism Health North Texas
Human Papillomavirus (HPV). (2016, February 1). Retrieved October 25, 2018, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/questions-answers.html
National Cancer Institute: HPV and Cancer. (2015, June 20). Retrieved October 25, 2018, from Cancer.gov web site: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-fact-sheet
Nemo, L. (2018, October 9). LiveScience: The HPV Vaccine Was Just Approved for Adults Up to Age 45. Should They Get It? Retrieved October 26, 2018, from LiveScience: https://www.livescience.com/63790-hpv-vaccine-adults.html
Ryan, B. (2018, April 20). HPV Vaccine Gardasil Is Not Effective in People With HIV Age 27 and Up. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from POZ: https://www.poz.com/article/hpv-vaccine-gardasil-effective-people-hiv-age-27
Smith, E. (2014). HPV: the whole story, warts and all. Cancer Research UK.