Practicing safe sex and using condoms are good ways of reducing your risk of contracting an STD. But another way of protecting yourself is getting vaccinated.
What vaccines are available for STDs? And are there new ones in development?
One STD vaccine you have probably heard about is the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 20 million people in the United States have HPV, with six million more becoming infected each year.
There are several different types of HPV, many of which clear on their own. ]]>But certain strains of HPV have serious health consequences]]>, causing genital warts, cervical cancer and other types of cancer, including vulvar cancer, anal cancer, vaginal cancer and penile cancer.
Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market: Gardasil and Cervarix. These two vaccines differ by the strains of HPV they protect against.
Gardasil is the more comprehensive of the two, vaccinating individuals against ]]>HPV types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts,]]> and HPV types 16 and 18, which cause cervical cancer.
Cervarix vaccinates against HPV types 16 and 18. The vaccine is given in three doses.
Currently, the vaccines are approved for women between the ages of 9 and 26. Gardasil is also approved for men between the ages of 9 and 26. ]]>Unfortunately, the bid to increase the age of use of Gardasil to 45 years old for women was rejected, though some older women choose to get the vaccine off-label, meaning they must pay the full price of the vaccine out of pocket]]>.
Vaccines are available for certain types of hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver.