"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

HPV rates explode despite protected, effective vaccine

June 26, 2023 – Vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) could also be more vital today than ever before, regardless that fewer and fewer young persons are getting vaccinated. An epidemic There are currently large numbers of sexually transmitted HPV viruses circulating within the US and the UK. Some severe cases result in oropharyngeal cancer, which might affect the throat, tonsils and tongue.

HPV is essentially the most common cause (70%) of this oropharyngeal carcinoma, after It is essentially the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) within the United States, and about 3.6% of girls and 10% of men report oral HPV specifically. But over the past decade, oropharyngeal cases have steadily declined, to slightly below 4% and a couple of%, respectively. after to the National Cancer Institute.

HPV is usually undetectable and disappears inside a couple of months. Unfortunately, some people can develop serious diseases comparable to throat cancer if HPV is just not treated.

Studies show that the HPV vaccine is incredibly effective in reducing sexually transmitted HPV cases, yet only 54.5% of adolescents ages 13 to fifteen have taken the advisable two to a few doses. after to the National Cancer Institute.

Why don’t more young people get vaccinated?

Low public awareness of the hazards of HPV could be the reason for low vaccination rates amongst young people, says Dr. Teresa Lee, assistant professor on the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “For example, although the link to head and neck cancer is well researched, the FDA labeling was not changed until 2020 to include this as a warning,” she said.

Other reasons may include socioeconomic background, lack of health literacy, cultural or religious stigmas related to vaccinations, and lack of quality and reasonably priced healthcare, says Dr. Emmanuel Aguh, a board-certified general practitioner. “Some individuals and families are still opposed to vaccinations and the lack of acceptance observed.”

Doctors and other health professionals also needs to be sure you educate patients of all ages in regards to the risks of HPV infection and the effectiveness of the vaccine, Lee said. “Perhaps not everyone who is now eligible was offered the vaccine as a child, and young adults may not receive counseling on this topic for the first time until they enter a very busy period with many commitments – when it can be difficult to juggle things like maintaining health.”

How protected is the HPV vaccine?

The FDA and CDC have been studying the HPV vaccine for years to learn how protected it's and the way well it really works, Aguh said. No serious unintended effects have been reported, and essentially the most common side effect is pain on the injection site (which is normal after most vaccinations). Teens might also experience dizziness and fainting, so young persons are often asked to sit down or lie down in the course of the injection and for quarter-hour afterward, he said.

“No serious adverse events have been reported more frequently than expected following HPV vaccination, meaning there is no clear evidence that they are related to the vaccine,” Lee said. “The vaccine is highly effective in reducing the rate of detectable infections with the high-risk HPV strains responsible for HPV-associated cancers.”

The HPV vaccine is primarily advisable for people ages 9 to 26, and sometimes as much as age 45, depending on the person, Aguh said. If you're over 26, check with your doctor about whether it's best to consider getting the vaccine.

“If taken before the age of 15, it is usually given in two doses to provide full protection,” Aguh said. “If taken after that, or in people with a weakened immune system, three doses may be needed to be fully protected.”

The vaccine produces antibodies that may prevent HPV from infecting cells and lowers the chance of developing HPV-related cancers comparable to throat cancer or cervical cancer, he said.

While the vaccine doesn't provide guaranteed protection against over 100 HPV strains, it could possibly protect against HPV 16 and HPV 18 – two high-risk strains that cause about 70% of all cervical cancers.

What is causing the rise in HPV cases?

One reason for this could be the misconception that oral sex is a “safe and risk-free” alternative to anal or vaginal sex, Aguh said.

“It is important to know that oral sex exposes you to many of the same risks associated with vaginal intercourse, especially if you do not take steps to protect yourself and/or your partner,” Aguh said. “[With oral sex] There is a possibility of catching an infection with chlamydia, gonorrhea or even HPV, which leads to an increased risk of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.”

A scarcity of public awareness about what may cause throat cancer could also explain this phenomenon. The number of individuals you've gotten oral sex with, in addition to the age at which you start sexual intercourse, can greatly determine your risk of the disease, in response to Lee. She reiterates a report by Dr. Hisham Mehanna in The conversation.

“The main risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer is the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, especially oral sex,” wrote Mehanna, professor on the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences on the University of Birmingham in England: “People who have had six or more oral sex partners in their lifetime have an 8.5 times higher risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer than someone who does not practice oral sex.”

What are the symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer?

Difficulty respiration or swallowing, persistent coughing and a crackly or hoarse voice can all be signs of throat cancer. Other symptoms include ear pain, swelling in the pinnacle or neck area and enlarged lymph nodes, Aguh said.

“The signs and symptoms of HPV-related throat cancer can be difficult to identify and recognize because they can be vague and also be associated with other conditions. Sometimes there are no signs at all or they are not easily recognized due to the location,” he said.

If you suffer from any of those symptoms for an extended time frame, it's best to seek the advice of your doctor.

How to cut back your risk

In addition to having six or more oral sex partners, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption might also increase the chance of throat cancer, Lee said. Good dental care – comparable to regular dental visits and good oral hygiene – may lower the chance.

“[Good dental health] can help “Not only in terms of the risk of head and neck cancer, but also many other inflammation-related diseases,” Lee said.

Using Rubber dam and condoms can also be a good method of protection, Aguh said. Rubber dam is a stretchable, square sheet made of latex or polyurethane plastic that is used to block bodily fluids and thus reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease during oral sex.

Remember: Even if you take these protective measures, you should definitely discuss the sexual Storyall past or current Sexually transmitted diseasesand their preferred protection against sexually transmitted diseases, Aguh said.

If you or your partner are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease, you should avoid oral sex and consult a doctor.

The HPV vaccine is another common method of protection. The vaccine is “approved to forestall nine of the highest-risk strains of HPV,” or those most commonly associated with cancer, Lee said. The vaccine “reduces the frequency of infection” with these viruses, which may ultimately lower the risk of HPV-related cancers, including cervical, anal, vulvar and vaginal cancers, she said.

“The best time to receive treatment to prevent disease is before sexual intercourse,” Lee said.

To get your HPV vaccine, go to your primary care doctor, a school or community health center, or a state health department. suggests the CDC.

Click here to learn more in regards to the HPV vaccine and here for more details about oral HPV and cancer.