Researchers from the University of Melbourne have analyzed numbers of new clients to the Melbourne Sexual Health Center with genital warts between 2004 and 2008. And they found that the HPV Vaccine has helped decrease genital warts over time.
Among vaccinated clients, the number of women under 28 with genital warts fell 25% for each quarter throughout 2008. The number of new cases of genital warts also fell by approximately 5% each quarter among heterosexual men in the same year.
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI. The virus infects individuals through the skin and mucous membranes - there are multiple strains of the HPV virus that can affect both men and women. Often individuals can become infected with HPV and are unaware that they've contracted the STI.
Some types of HPV can result in genital warts among men and women. Different strains of the virus can result in cervical cancer and in some cases, cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus or penis. Genital warts are symptoms of the low-risk HPV type. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "in 90% of cases, the body's immune system clears the HPV infection naturally within two years. This is true of both high risk and low risk types."
Though the HPV Vaccine is used to protect against certain types of cervical cancer, the new research suggests that genital warts may also be decreased with the vaccine.
This is good news, because now the vaccine could be even more worthwhile, preventing against both kinds of the HPV virus. Hopefully at some point women AND men will be able to get the vaccine, helping to eradicate a virus that affects many individuals. Ultimately genital warts are a mere inconvenience compared to cervical cancer - but the findings may be a step in encouraging more people to get the vaccine. As always one should speak to a doctor or health professional about the risks, side effects, and benefits of the HPV vaccine.