Why Your Daughter Should Get the HPV Vaccine

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It is a common misunderstanding that the HPV vaccine is just a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. While the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus transmitted through sexual contact like other STDs, it can lead to cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer, vulvar cancer, and genital warts. HPV's role in the development of many other types of cancer is being investigated by researchers.
In June 2006, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil, an HPV vaccine, in young women ages 9 to 26. It is currently available at many doctors and public health clinic's offices across the United States. The vaccine has spawned much controversy, which has led to many parents being confused and unsure about whether to have their daughter vaccinated.

Parents are encouraged to make an informed decision about vaccinating their daughters with the HPV vaccine. Talking to the family pediatrician and learning more about HPV and cervical cancer are both recommended by experts to help parents make a decision. HPV is hard to live with and there is no cure.

Why Girls Should Get the HPV Vaccine

  1. Gardasil greatly reduces the chances that your daughter will develop cervical cancer. Gardasil protects against two types of HPV that cause 70% of all cases of cervical cancer, thus greatly reducing the risk of developing cervical cancer later in life. About 11,070 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and an estimated 3,780 die from the disease.
    Because Gardasil does not protect against all types of HPV, women who are vaccinated still need to have regular Pap smears to detect any precancerous changes. The vaccine does not replace the Pap smear and regular Pap smears are necessary for optimum cervical health.
  2. Gardasil protects young girls from the two common types of HPV that can cause genital warts. Vaccinated girls are protected from the two types of HPV that are responsible for 90% of genital warts. Genital warts can appear as cauliflower-like growths that can occur on, within, and around the vagina. They also can appear as flat growths that aren't prominent and can go unnoticed. Although genital warts do not pose any immediate health risk, they can be embarrassing for many women and can cause feelings of shame.
  3. Gardasil greatly reduces the risk of developing other potentially life-threatening types of cancer. Vaccinating your daughter will greatly reduce the risk of her developing precancerous and abnormal vaginal and vulvar lesions that could become cancerous. The same types of HPV that cause cervical cancer are also linked to vaginal and vulvar cancer. Although less common than cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancer are serious types of cancer that can be life-threatening.
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