Jan 08, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Marissa Villasenor

Recently talk show host Katie Couric highlighted several women’s experiences with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The segments included stories from women who claimed the vaccine caused serious harm and led to one woman’s death.

The discussion sparked a national conversation around the cancer preventing vaccine.

But Cindy Gellner, MD, pediatrician at Westridge Health Center recommends parents consider the facts. “The vaccine has been shown to be highly effective and the research shows that the protection is long lasting.”

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, with more than 20 million Americans currently infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“I always advise parents and patients to seriously consider getting this vaccine,” says Gellner. “This is the first vaccine developed to prevent a major type of cancer.”

HPV is most common in women and men in their late teens and early 20s. It is so common that at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. But the ideal age to receive the vaccine is a decade before. “Pediatricians currently recommend that both boys and girls get the vaccine around age 11-12, when junior high vaccines are given,” says Gellner.

According to the CDC, along with young teens the vaccine is also recommended for women through age 26 and men through age. HPV can be especially dangerous for women who are pregnant or planning on having children. “Children can be affected by this if a mother has HPV while pregnant.”

The HPV vaccines are given as a series of three shots over six months to protect against the HPV infection. An HPV infection can lead to potentially more serious health problems like cervical cancers in women.

Marissa Villasenor

Marissa Villasenor is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs at University of Utah Health Care.

infectious disease hpv

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