Dispelling the Myths of the HPV Vaccination

Happy New Year!

I bet you thought my column was going to be about making resolutions for a healthier lifestyle in the New Year. While I am all for this, there is no need to wait for a specific date to make better choices when it concerns your health, so let’s just do it!

There is a topic, however, that I have mentioned on other platforms and during several media interviews that I felt compelled to discuss in greater detail, and that is HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccination.

According to Planned Parent Parenthood, "HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts. There are more than 200 types of HPV, and about 40 kinds of HPV are spread during sexual contact. Cancers caused by HPV include cervical cancer in women as well as cancers of the anus and throat in men and women. Other types of HPV cause common warts like hand warts and plantar warts on the feet — but these aren’t sexually transmitted.

There are 3 brands of HPV vaccine — Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix. All of these vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18 — the 2 types that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases." 

In recent years, there has been much debate over HPV vaccination and whether there are risks or even ethical ramifications associated with youth as young as 11 or 12 getting vaccinated since the virus is transmitted via sexual contact.

With any type of vaccination or medical treatment, it is always my advice to consult your physician, but beyond this consultation, I also encourage parents to do your research. Keep in mind that vaccines are created to prevent the contraction of viruses. If you knew that you could potentially prevent your child from contracting cervical cancer, wouldn’t you at least want to learn more on how this can be achieved?

The biggest educational barrier around the HPV vaccine is the stigma of it being sexually transmitted. If the vaccine were for something skin cancer or lung cancer, I probably would not have to write this column. Once we get past the fact that HPV is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease), perhaps we can then focus on the important information around prevention.

I am pleased to share that Community HealthNet Health Care Centers has partnered with the IU Simon Cancer Center and the  Gary Housing Authority to present a series of information sessions about HPV and vaccination in 2019. It’s a great opportunity for residents to hear from healthcare professionals about the vaccinations and make an educated decision on behalf of themselves and their children.


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