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Understanding the HPV Vaccine

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) related image Photo: Getty Images

There has been much controversy in the photosphere regarding the HPV vaccine. Some inaccurate comments have been made which could lead those eligible to receive it to decide against it. One of these such comments is, the vaccine will cause you to get HPV. Not only is this untrue, it is impossible based upon the make-up of the vaccine itself.

Most of the vaccines that we are familiar with receiving are developed from the actual causative agent itself. What is received, however, is what is referred to as an attenuated version. This means that the virulence or strength of the agent has been significantly reduced. The body will still evoke an immune response, however the strength is so minimal that actually getting the disease is unlikely.

The HPV vaccine is not made from an attenuated version of HPV. Rather it is developed using what are called capsid proteins coating the virus. The L1 and L2 capsids in particular have been shown to result in a sufficient immune response as to prevent development of the virus itself. The antibodies which are produced by the body to the various strains of HPV are very highly specific to that HPV type.

The first and current vaccine available (Gardasil) which addresses four of the most prominent types of HPV utilize these L1 capsid proteins, referred to as VLP’s or virus-like particles. They protect against two low risk (6 and 11) and two high risk (16 and 18) strains of HPV. Low risk strains result in genital warts. High risk strains have been associated with a variety of genital cancers, as well as a form of oral cancer.

Whether male or female, if you are age 26 or younger (starting at age 9) the HPV vaccine is a potent weapon in what has been deemed the “War on Cancer”.

Financial assistance is also available from Merck Pharmaceuticals for those unable to afford the three shots required in the series. It is also important to know that receiving the vaccine is not precluded if you have already tested positive for HPV and this is clearly stipulated in the product information materials which come with the vaccine.


Reviewed July 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

About 16 percent of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 are infected with STDs, U.S. health officials said. Maybe this is the reason that why there are more than 680,000 members on POZRomance . c0m. Hope all the people take care and find love.

July 31, 2011 - 11:44pm

It is always easy to present contradictory information when refusing to accept resonsibility for it by remaining anonymous. You provide no research references to validate your issues presented. I would be very interested in the study which shows that 60% of individuals have had HPV since birth. I know of no studies having tested for HPV on infants or young children so perhaps you can provide them to validate your assertions.

July 29, 2011 - 11:47pm
(reply to Bonnie Diraimondo RN)

The vaccine cannot produce cancer as the actual virus is not even present in the vaccine. It is the outside covering of the virus which is contained within the vaccine and stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies. It is simply not the covering but the virus itself which causes the abnormal cell changes which can progress to cancer. I would be interested to know who or what websites are dispursing such erroneous information. Again, it is easy to make any allegation one cares to but if they cannot back up those assertions with documented data/research that is what is misleading.

July 30, 2011 - 11:49am
EmpowHER Guest

This article is misinforming individuals. Merck's 2006 clinical trial for Gardasil showed a negative efficacy of -44.6% against individuals being vaccinated for whom already have been infected with HPV genotypes. As much as 60% of the population have had HPV since birth.
No prescreening is recommended since it would reduce cost/benefit relationship. So YES gardasil/cervarix can cause cancer or further HPV infection. I will also add this vaccine is not anti-cancer and CC reduction has not been used as a clinical endpoint in any study to date. Merck now calls HPV a disease, coincidentally!

July 29, 2011 - 7:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have HPV and I am an engineer who works for the largest STD dating and support site STDslove. com. I have to tell you a secret, you can choose not to believe me. But the truth is that this site has more than 1,880,000 members and about 80% members are good looking in my estimation.

Unfortunately, STD rates soar worldwide and most people with STDs don't even know that they have them. The government should grant more money for STD education to lower the rates of STD transmission.

July 28, 2011 - 12:37am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

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