We will use this article to discuss all the important things that you need to know about the HPV Vaccine. You will also get to find out how this vaccine operates and the steps you can take to get yourself protected. After going through this article, if you have any further inquiries, feel free to contact our HPV vaccine in Edinburgh team and we will be pleased to help you with any questions that you have.
What is HPV?
HPV is the name given to a very common group of viruses.
There are many types of HPV, some of which are called “high risk” because they’re linked to the development of cancers, such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, genital cancers, and cancers of the head and neck.
Other types can cause conditions like warts or verrucas.
Nearly all cervical cancers (99.7%) are caused by infection with a high-risk type of HPV.
But only some of the anal and genital cancers, and cancers of the head and neck, are caused by HPV infection.
The rest of these cancers are caused by other risk factors like smoking and drinking alcohol.
HPV infections do not usually cause any symptoms, and most people will not know they’re infected. Our HPV vaccine in Edinburgh service will ensure that you stay secure and protected.
How HPV is spread
Many types of HPV affect the mouth, throat or genital area. They’re easy to catch.
You do not need to have penetrative sex.
You can get HPV from:
- any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
- vaginal, anal or oral sex
- sharing sex toys
HPV has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have it.
It’s very common. Most people will get some type of HPV in their life.
What are the different types of HPV and what do they do?
There are more than 100 different types of HPV, and around 40 that affect the genital area.
HPV is very common and can be caught through any kind of sexual contact with another person who already has it.
Most people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives, and their bodies will get rid of it naturally without treatment.
But some women infected with a high-risk type of HPV will not be able to clear it.
Over time, this can cause abnormal tissue growth as well as other changes in the cells of their cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer if not treated.
High-risk types of HPV are also linked to other types of cancer, including:
Infection with other types of HPV may cause:
- genital warts – small growths or skin changes on or around the genital or anal area; they’re the most common viral sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK
- skin warts and verrucas – not on the genital area
- warts on the voice box or vocal cords (laryngeal papillomas)
How does the HPV vaccine work?
Currently, the national NHS HPV vaccination programme uses a vaccine called Gardasil.
Gardasil protects against 4 types of HPV: 6, 11, 16 and 18. Between them, types 16 and 18 are the cause of most cervical cancers in the UK (more than 70%).
These types of HPV also cause some anal and genital cancers, and some cancers of the head and neck.
HPV types 6 and 11 cause around 90% of genital warts, so using Gardasil helps protect girls against both cervical cancer and genital warts.
HPV vaccination does not protect against other infections spread during sex, such as chlamydia, and it will not stop girls getting pregnant, so it’s still very important to practise safe sex.
How is the HPV vaccine given?
At Edinburgh Travel Clinic, we use the HPV-9 (Gardisil-9) vaccine.
The HPV vaccine is currently given as a series of 2 injections into the upper arm.
They’re spaced at least 6 months apart, and girls who missed their HPV vaccination offered at school can get the vaccine for free up to their 25th birthday.
It’s important to have both vaccine doses to be protected. Our HPV Vaccine pharmacist will make sure of this.
Girls who get their first vaccination dose at the age of 15 or older will need to have 3 injections.
Men who have sex with men (MSM), and trans men and trans women who are eligible for the vaccine, will need 3 vaccination doses (2 if they’re under 15).
For those who need 3 doses of the vaccine:
- the second dose should be given at least 1 month after the first
- the third dose should be given ideally within 12 months of the second dose
It’s important to have all vaccine doses to be properly protected.
How long does the HPV vaccine protect for?
Studies have already shown that the vaccine protects against HPV infection for at least 10 years, although experts expect protection to last for much longer. But because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, it’s important that all girls who receive the HPV vaccine also have regular cervical screening once they reach the age of 25.
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