June 2013 – Human Papillomavirus Prevention
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infects squamous epithelial cells, which can be characterized as tin, flat cells found on the surface of skin and mucous membranes. In majority of cases, the cells affected by HPV do not cause symptoms up to almost 2 years. Occasionally, visible genital warts will appear with weeks, months, or even years after sexual contact with a person infected with HPPV. The pink to brown colored lesions appear as a single or multiple bumps and may be flat or raised, or resemble a cauliflower. Without treatment, genital warts may go away, become larger in size or remain unchanged. Genital warts are usually painless.
Several treatment options are based on size, number and the location of the warts and the preference of the individual affected. There are topical solutions, laser or electro surgery and cryosurgery options. There is no evidence to suggest that one treatment is better than another.
The most effective way to reduce one's risk of contracting HPV is to abstain from sexual activity. It takes only one exposure to an infected partner for transmission to occur, and the resulting infection can have devastating effects.
HPV vaccines can be used to promote immunity and protect the public from HPV viruses. The two vaccines available in the US are Gardasil (approved for females/males) and Cervarix (females only). The recommended schedules and administration of these vaccines are the same. Cervarix is contraindicated in females with latex allergies and Gardasil should not be given to those with an “immediate hypersensitivity to yeast”.
Without adequate knowledge of the consequences of sexual behavior, adolescents are at an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Adolescents have reported more frequent engagement in oral sex than sexual intercourse. Oral sex is viewed by adolescents as less risky in terms of health, social, and emotional consequences. As a result there are an increasing number of cases of HPV related oral cavity cancer. Parents need to stress the importance of abstinence and health promotion behaviors to their children. Health care providers can support the parents in a discussion during an annual health visit.
The Healthy People 2020 Goal is for an 80% HPV vaccination rate. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children 11 to 12 years of age are recommended to receive the Tdap, 2 nd dose of Varicella, Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, three doses of HPV, an annual influenza vaccine. RI Department of Health is holding hearings on this vaccine and plan on making this a mandatory 7 th grade entry vaccine in 2014.
Start a conversation with your adolescent about healthy lifestyles and behavior choices. Increasing their knowledge about healthy sexual behaviors will empower them with making informed decisions and maybe the right one.
Have a wonderful summer break! Remember to obtain physicals for PK, K, 7 th grade and sports and the required immunizations needed to enter the specific grade level. Please mail them in over the summer to me.