FORT STEWART, Ga. - You may remember hearing about the human papillomavirus (also called HPV) but did you know that there is a vaccine that can help protect you against this infection' HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection according to the Centers for Disease Control, and currently there are two vaccines being offered, Gardisil and Cervarix, that can help protect you against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.

This vaccine is not just for young girls or women. Boys and young men who receive the HPV vaccine appear to be at reduced risk of contracting the virus according to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the CDC, a study conducted in 1998-2003 estimated that about 24,900 HPV associated cancers occur each year. You might think that is pretty low, but remember that most people who become infected with HPV don't even know they have it according to the CDC.

There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. For the record, HPV is the not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex according the CDC. HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners even when the infected partner has no symptoms. In fact, symptoms are rare so most people who have HPV pass it on without realizing it making a strong case for vaccinating males and females.

Both vaccines, Cervarix made by GlaxoSmithLine and Gardasil made by Merck, are licensed by the FDA and recommended by the CDC. Both vaccines are very effective against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers. Our immunization clinics currently offer the Gardasil vaccine.

Both vaccines prevent cervical cancer and precancer in women according the CDC. The vaccines are safe and given in shots that require three scheduled doses. The immunization clinic will advise you of the schedule upon starting your first dose. Currently, the Gardasil vaccine also helps to protect against HPV types 6 and 11, which cause most genital warts in females and males according to the CDC. Should you want to protect you or your Family Member, anyone between the ages of 9-26 can get the vaccine at the immunization clinic. The clinic hours are from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily with the exception of training holidays which are the 4th Thursday of each month and those hours are 1 to 4 p.m.

The CDC recommends that girls and young women ages 13 through 26 should get all three doses of an HPV vaccine if they have not received all doses yet. While,the immunization clinic has not begun administering the vaccine to males, it is best that you talk with your primary care manager to discuss options until it becomes available at the clinic.

With an estimated 20 million Americans currently diagnosed with HPV according the recent New England Journal of Medicine article, why take the risk when a safe and effective vaccine is available' More information about HPV or other sexually transmitted infections or diseases and the benefit of available vaccinations, can be found at www.cdc.gov or heath.com. The vaccination has been proven by the FDA to help prevent cervical cancer, which can be caused by HPV, and that should be enough reason to help protect your Family Member.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16