Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to a group of viruses that live on the skin and can be passed from person-to-person. Many HPV infections come and go and do not cause any problems, but persistent HPV infection is a leading cause of cervical and other cancers. In addition to cervical cancer in women, HPV infection can cause genital warts as well as cancers of the penis, vulva, anus and throat.
How is HPV transmitted?
The main transmission route is through sexual contact with an infected individual, this includes sexual intercourse of any type or skin-to-skin contact of the genital area.
Who is at risk of HPV?
Anyone who is sexually active (men and women) is at risk of contracting types of the viruses. HPV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.
How is HPV prevented?
Several types of HPV can be prevented through vaccination with Gardasil or Gardasil9. However, the vaccines do not prevent all types, so it is important to use barriers methods such as condoms during all types of sex to prevent the transmission of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. It is also vital for women to have routine smear checks. Nomad use the Gardasil9 vaccine, which protects against 9 types of the virus rather than the 4 types covered by the traditional vaccine. Gardasil9 also has less side effects, which is another reason we prefer to offer this vaccine.
Who can have the HPV vaccine?
Anyone requesting the HPV vaccine who is over 9 years of age can be vaccinated with Gardasil 9 at Nomad clinics. Children must have parental consent and attend the clinic with a parent. The safety and efficacy of Gardasil 9 in those over 27 years of age has not been studied.
The NHS offers the 4 strain version of the vaccine for free to girls until they turn 18, with the first dose offered at 12 to 13 years. Boys are not included in the NHS scheme but are still at risk of HPV related cancers and as 45% of men carry some form of HPV virus, they can pass on the virus to unvaccinated girls and women. Men who have sex with men (MSM) up to 45 years of age are now also eligible for HPV vaccination on the NHS, due to not benefitting from the herd immunity of vaccinations administered to women & girls.
Who can not have the HPV vaccine?
Anyone who is has a high temperature or unwell, who has had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine, or who is hypersensitive to any of the vaccine components. Pregnant women are advised to delay vaccination until after the pregnancy. People with deteriorating neurological conditions should check with their GP first. Anyone with immunocompromising issues may not fully respond to the vaccine and may need additional doses and specialist advice, which we can advise on in your consultation.
Should I Get the HPV Vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is very safe and the Gardasi9 version Nomad administers has minimal side effects. Numerous studies have demonstrated that HPV vaccines are highly effective at reducing the likelihood of developing diseases related to the HPV types covered in the vaccine. A large systematic review of 26 trials and 73 000 girls and women found the vaccines to be extremely effective with low incidents of serious side effects. Rates of head and neck cancers in men have increased greatly in recent decades, the HPV vaccine will reduce the likelihood of developing cancer from types of HPV. We can vaccinate boys and men who are not eligible for courses of the vaccine on the NHS. Early views of the effectiveness of the NHS schedule have shown that HPV infection rates in girls have reduced around 80%, and we should see a similarly huge decrease in numbers of people developing HPV caused cancers as a result of this. If you want to protect yourself and others against human papillomavirus and the cancers it can cause, book a consultation today to get vaccinated.