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Please explain to me why a middle aged woman, who comes out of a mongomus relationship and finds herself single and dating again, is not offered the HPV vaccine?

By Anonymous February 24, 2009 - 4:47pm
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I had a physical soon after i became seperated on my way to divorce. My GYN knew I was sexually active and had a partner. I was not offered the HPV virus, it was never even brought up! My daughters were strongly encouraged to become vaccinated but nothing for the middle aged woman. Well, as luck would have it, I contracted HPV, which was diagnosed the following year. I was told that it is not offered because studies have not been done to determine if the vaccine is helpful....WHAT? At least offer it, talk about it....Another reason was that insurance would not pay because it had not been studied, so it would be out of pocket, if I chose to have it.

Here is the irony...insurance will certainly pay for Cialis,or Viagra, but not a simple vaccine that could save a womans life? I'll bet if penile cancer was a complication of the HPV virus, you damn well better believe insurance would pay, and them some!

I am very disheartened at his unfair practice and would love to hear more perspective on the topic.

Thanks for listening, I hope I made sense.

Kayte Bak
Greenfield Massachusetts

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EmpowHER Guest

What Ms. Bak does not reveal in her letter is that her partner was not monogamous. When Ms. Bak left her marriage, she began a relationship with a married father of two young children. She obviously did not take precautions to avoid an STD-namely, a condom. Perhaps if she had been more forthright with her physician, and her partner, she would not have contracted HPV. I do not feel sorry for her at all.

April 12, 2009 - 12:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

I understand the frustration over the vaccine not being offered and the fact that insurance doesn't cover it. However, there is quite a bit of misinformation out there concerning HPV and the vaccine.

Most forms of HPV do not lead to cervical cancer, and most forms of cervical cancer are not caused by HPV. More importantly, the type of HPV that does lead to cervical cancer takes several years to develop into such -- and, 9 times out of 10, it goes away. If you're getting a yearly PAP smear, as every woman should, then the virus is going to be caught and taken care of long before it blossoms into cancer.

I had an abnormal PAP smear almost a year ago, and subsequently had a biopsy that came back positive for HPV. I was given the option of either having the offending cells removed or monitoring the situation through repeat PAP smears every six months. Since there was a good chance the infection would clear up on its own, and the cells were years away from becoming cancerous, I decided to monitor the situation and have the cells removed if they hadn't gone away in a year and a half. Well, guess what? The virus is already gone.

Of course that doesn't happen for everyone, and I'm not trying to minimize the fact that HPV can lead to cancer. It can, and as a result, every woman should make sure she's getting her yearly exam. The point I'm trying to make, however, is that there's already a proven way of preventing the infection from getting out of hand, and at the end of the day, it isn't quite the crisis situation that it's been made out to be. For me, when the choice is between regularly getting myself checked out by my doctor and trying a vaccine whose long-term effects are as yet unknown, I'm going to choose getting myself checked out. Especially since this vaccine will only protect me against one form of cervical cancer -- the one that's probably already the easiest to avoid, because we know exactly what virus causes it and exactly how to get rid of said virus if it's detected and isn't going away.

March 11, 2009 - 7:53pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Dear Anonymous:

You said that a very small number of cervical cancers are wrought by HPV. You are wrong there. MOST, if not ALL cervical cancers are related to HPV. Along with most anal cancer and a little more than half of all oral/throat cancers that are not smoking-related. Basically, any place a guy can put his genitals is prone to his partner getting HPV. Some cases have even been found in the hands of the partner or the man with the virus! The reason middle aged women are not vaccinated is because the HPV virus can lay dormant for YEARS, so the most middle aged women who have EVER had sex with ANYONE most likely already has HPV and just does not know it. Get over it. I have been married for 22 years and I am having surgery soon to remove mine. We are both monogamous, but were not before we were married. So one of us got it over 2 decades ago, obviously, and it's just now coming to light. It is rare that it affects a man's penis, but not so rare that it affects a woman's cervix. In fact, some estimates are in the 75% range. When I say that, I am talking about 75% of all women over the age of 30 will or already have contracted the virus. A vaccine does not work if you already have it.

To the original poster: While I am sorry for your situation, I will tell you this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! In fact, you're in the majority.

December 13, 2012 - 3:23pm
HERWriter Guide


Thanks for your story. I very much agree with your views. It's as if older women are supposed to be devoid of anything sexual so why bother protecting them?

The pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline is currently testing a HPV vaccination in women up to 55 years old so don't lose hope.

The vaccination is currently given to women over the age of 26 by some clinics and doctor's offices but some are still hesitant because the effects are unknown in older women.

I am very surprised at the American Cancer Society's take on women under 30 getting the HPV test (which is not the same as a pap test), however. They don't recommend it and since a majority of infections in young women clear up by themselves, they say the worry and cost of HPV testing makes it unnecessary.

Would it not make sense that every women knows if she has it - in order to take measure to NOT infect others, at the very least? And we wonder why 80% of women will have this virus by the time they are 50...I think this is very irresponsible.

Incidentally, the HPV virus can and does contribute to penile cancer, but penile cancer is quite rare. Studies are currently being done involving an HPV vaccination for males.

February 28, 2009 - 5:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for your story. I know some things are just unfair and are completely unnecessary and there is no explanation. There is no good reasoning behind this and there is no good answer for you. I am really sorry for your pain.

February 28, 2009 - 2:55pm
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