There still remains confusion when it comes to patients, male or female, being able to obtain the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. This vaccine was developed by Merck after numerous years of research and approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for use in the prevention of cervical cancer.
Since that time, the product insert which accompanies the vaccine has been revised upon the approval of the FDA to expand the use of the vaccine to include dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) and cancer of both the vagina and vulva. In early 2011, the FDA additionally approved the use of the vaccine for the use in the prevention of AIN (anal intraepithelial neoplasia) and anal cancer. The product insert again is revised to include this information. The vaccine was also approved for use in males in 2010.
The insert itself speaks to just who should be receiving the vaccine along with explaining the administration, dosage and time intervals between each dose. There are three doses which make up the complete series. All three should be obtained in order to receive maximum protection.
Some people are being advised by their physicians, that if they have a positive HPV test indicating they are infected with the virus, that they cannot receive the vaccine. This is contrary not only to the recommendations of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommendations but also to the information provided by the manufacturer of the vaccine – Merck.
This becomes confusing because there are over 100 different strains of HPV. Over 40 strains are known to cause dysplasia and cancer in the anogenital tract of both males and females. The current HPV test, manufactured by digene, tests for fourteen of the strains which are considered high risk for causing these dysplasias and cancers. However, the test results are reported as either positive or negative. The test results do not inform the doctor of which strain or strains of the virus the patient has.
Many doctors either incorrectly read the report or incorrectly conclude that the vaccine would be of no use for the patient. This couldn’t be further from the truth.