Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the general name for the cervical cancer-causing virus among women.  It affects the reproductive system of women and if not treated early enough, can cause infertility. However, early detection of the virus—primarily identified through yearly Pap smear tests—can prevent the spread of infection.

Vaccines to treat HPV have been developed over the last few years, the most well known is Gardasil.  Gardasil only treats four types of the HPV virus, while researchers have identified over 100 different strains of HPV.

Sexually active individuals have an 80 percent chance of contracting any of the 100 different types of HPV, but a healthy body can fend off the infection 80 percent of the time.

When cervical cancer is diagnosed, Gardasil is often prescribed to treat HPV. However, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) on the Center for Disease Control (CDC), parents and patients reported adverse effects to Gardasil  “an average of 53.9 VAERS reports per 100,000 vaccine doses. Of these, 40 percent occurred on the day of vaccination, and 6.2 percent were serious…” However, this accounts for a very small percentage of all vaccinations.

Doubts around a national mandate for HPV may be addressed—cohort studies conducted in Denmark have shown that women have been better off protecting themselves against getting HPV.  Studies done in Denmark suggest that a mandated Gardasil vaccine for young girls may help reduce the number of cases of HPV.  The study, led by Birgitte Baldur-Felskov of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen, examined the impact of the Gardasil HPV vaccine and looked at HPV vaccination data from 2006 to 2012 for all girls and women born in Denmark between 1989 and 1999.  Baldur-Felskov concluded that those who received HPV vaccination had a much lower risk for precancerous lesions compared to those who weren’t vaccinated.  The study conducted in Denmark suggests that HPV vaccination for young girls aged 11-13 could lower the risk for cervical cancer.

Questions arise on whether the benefits outweigh the cons when taking a vaccine that only protects one from 4 out of 100 strains of HPV only work 80 percent of the time.  Even then, for the 20 percent of patients that will not be able to fight it off on their own, HPV is usually diagnosed early on during an annual pap smear test, a colposcopy, or a HPV DNA test, and then treated before causing any major threat to the individual’s health.

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