While the HPV vaccine is not a magic bullet, it is certainly a fantastic option for young women who are going to be sexually active. Learning more about the HPV vaccine just might help to save your life - or that of someone you know. Find out more about this vaccine and how it can help women between the ages of 9 and 26.
An Important Step
While a vaccine against genital warts is not going to prevent everyone in the world from getting this virus, and it's not a cure for warts that you already have, it's certainly a very important thing to know about. The vaccine is preventative, meaning that it needs to be given before exposure to the virus. This means that it's not a cure, should you find that you have genital warts. It is, however, a wonderful option and a great way for people, particularly younger people, to prevent genital warts.
The vaccine, called Gardasil, is sold from Merck & Co. and protects against human papillomavirus types 16, 18, 6, and 11. With types 6 and 11 this vaccine protects against genital warts, while with types 16 and 18, it protects against warts that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June of 2006, and it is a breakthrough for protecting younger girls from the more dangerous strains of HPV.
How It Works
The vaccine is safe for girls between the ages of 9 and 26 and is given in three injections over a six month time period. It can't protect a girl who has already been exposed, and is, therefore, being encouraged for girls who are not yet sexually active. This is the best way to guarantee that it will serve as a defense against certain strains of genital warts and will protect these girls when they become sexually active. It's also important for girls to understand that this vaccine doesn't protect against every strain of the virus. For this reasons, they should continue using condoms and should have routine checkups done by doctors.
Are Condoms Just As Good?
Condoms certainly help to prevent HPV, but they are not a foolproof protection against it. This is because the warts can be outside the area that is covered with the condom and the condom can break. The vaccine, on the other hand, is a very good method for preventing the specific strains of genital warts.
Paying for the Vaccine
The retail price of the vaccine runs about $125 for each dose, with a total of three doses needed. Some insurance plans will cover the vaccine, but certainly many will not. It's certainly worthwhile to ask your doctor if it is covered, and to see if having a letter from the doctor will help you to get it covered. It is possible for girls under the age of 18 to get the vaccine for free with the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This would be for children who are eligible for Medicaid, are uninsured, or are either American Indian or Alaska natives. VFC vaccines can't be denied to a child who is eligible under these conditions and can prove that they can't afford to pay for the vaccine themselves. The doctor may charge a small fee for administering the vaccines, however. You may also want to contact your State Health Department to see if they have free or low-cost vaccines at public health department clinics.
This vaccine won't help people who already have genital warts, but it certainly will help those who are not yet sexually active or infected. Ask your doctor for more information about the vaccine. It just might make a huge difference in your life - or in the life of someone you love.