The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

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The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

The unforgettable story of vaccines is a story of triumph and controversy. The saddest part of the story is persistent ignorance and a lack of education, comingled with the personal need of some parents to explain away the problems of their children, have caused the controversy to arise. The good news is that the triumphant reality of vaccines as a whole is still the larger enduring legacy. The human papillomavirus vaccine is not an exception to this rule; in fact despite all the controversy surrounding the vaccine, it is one of medicine’s greatest lifesaving gifts to us.

What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)? According to the US government’s National Cancer Institute, human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a collection of more than one hundred viruses, many types having the ability to grow tumors or polyps that are malignant and others benign. Certain of the viruses are capable of forming genital warts. The HPVs that cause the common warts on hands and feet are different from those that cause growth in the throat or genital area (Human Papillomavirus). Professors Joe Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho inform us that some types are associated with cancer, and are called “high risk” HPVs. Of the more than one hundred types of HPVs, over thirty can be passed on through sexual contact. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms and go away without treatment over the course of a few years. However, HPV infection sometimes persists for many years, with or without causing detectable cell abnormalities. Infection from “High risk” types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. Pap smears have also led to earlier detection of these infections. Nearly all women who are sexually active will have HPV inf...

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