Other than human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes, most people do not know much about sexually transmitted diseases. Diseases like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and human papillomavirus (HPV) are some of the other serious sexually transmitted diseases. According to an article published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2017, every year around 570,000 cases of HPV in women and 60,000 cases of HPV in men are reported worldwide.
What is HPV?
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections but still one of the least talked about. While in most of the cases HPV resolves on its own, some strains can persist and progress to genital warts or cervical cancer. A person can get infected with HPV shortly after becoming sexually active. HPV does not require penetration for its transmission, even skin-to-skin genital contact can transfer this infection.
Who needs to get vaccinated for Human Papillomavirus?
From children to adults, everyone needs to get vaccinated for HPV. The HPV vaccine cannot be given after a certain age. The HPV vaccine can be given as early as age 9 years. The vaccine can be given until the age of 26 years as after that doctors do not recommend the vaccine.
The HPV vaccine can be given to a pregnant woman after getting a consultation with her gynaecologist. There is no evidence yet to suggest that HPV vaccine harms the fetus.
Why is the HPV vaccine important?
Most of the HPV infections clear up on their own. Even most of the pre-cancerous lesions resolve on their own. However, there is always a risk that these lesions may progress into chronic invasive cervical cancer. HPV can cause cancer in various parts of the body such as the cervix, vagina and vulva in women, penis in men and anus and back of the throat.
How many doses of the HPV vaccine are required?
The HPV vaccine can be given in either two or 3 doses.
A. Two-dose HPV vaccine
The two-dose vaccine should be given to the child between the age of 9 to 14 years. The second dose is given 6 to 12 months after the first dose. There should be a minimum gap of 5 months between the first and second dose.
B. Three-dose HPV vaccine
The three-dose vaccine is recommended to those who have not got even a single dose of HPV vaccine before the age of 15 years. Three dose vaccine is given to people in the age group of 15 to 26 years. The second dose in the 3-dose series is given one to two months after the first dose and the third dose is given 6 months after the second dose.
There should be a gap of four weeks between the first and second dose, 12 weeks between the second and third doses and five months between the first and third doses.