Health

HPV is associated with cancer of the cervix, penis, anus, vagina and vulva, expert stresses

Education as a key factor of the scientific community in Puerto Rico for HPV vaccination.

Dra. Vivían Colón, professor at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico. Photo: Provided by Dr. Colón to the Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

“Puerto Rican women have a higher rate of cervical cancer than women in the United States, which is why they began to talk about social factors,” said Dr. Vivían Colón, professor at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricowho emphasized the importance of vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) as a preventive method for this type of cancer.

However, the specialist clarified that the human papilloma virus, in addition to being associated with cervical cancer, is also associated with cancer of the penis, anus, vagina and vulva. Risk factors include having multiple sexual partners and a weakened immune system.

It should be noted that there are lacerations that occur prior to cancer and that, if the vaccine is administered on time, it can be prevented in most cases. Dr. Colón is working on innovative projects, such as the community cancer program, which has been running for more than ten years and has helped Puerto Rico at a scientific level and training of other professionals, since they have focused on understanding the human papilloma virus, developing two educational programs, one of them aimed at parents in charge of children aged 11 to 15 years.

“The vaccine against HPV prevents cancers associated with this virus, but the number of doses depends on the person’s age at the time of vaccination,” says Colón, this is important to know because there is a follow-up, “if you have a child between 9 and 14 years , there are two doses, the first is given and the next is at six months; if you are 15 years old or older, there are three doses, which are placed over a period of six months,” added the expert.

Dr. Colón had previously revealed to the Journal of Medicine and Public Health that “there are approximately more than 150 viruses of HPV which are divided into two groups: those of low risk that are presented by genital warts and those of high risk are types 16 and 18 that are linked to types of gynecological cancer such as cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis and others such as the mouth, head and neck and the oropharynx”.

For that reason, Colón, together with another group of experts, continue to make efforts to educate and prevent contagion in Puerto Rico.

The WHO World Health Assembly made official in November 2020 the process for the eradication of cervical cancer by 2030 worldwide. The goal is to reach 90% vaccination against HPV70% in screening tests and 90% in treatment of precancerous lesions and cancer associated with HPV

“There is no association between the administration of the human papillomavirus vaccine and subsequent sexual changes, so it is a myth,” explains the specialist, regarding the belief that after administration there could be a release in sexual behavior.

Another myth that has created resistance to the vaccine is the belief that the administration could cause infertility, but the expert clarifies that: “Neither infertility nor side effects in general have been seen in scientific evidence in decades, since this vaccine has over fifteen years.”

“It is time to resume vaccination as an opportunity to prevent cancer,” is the call of Dr. Colón.

Puerto Rico and the fight against HPV

In a report revealed by the Pan American Health Organization, data was released that highlights the work, since in August 2018 Puerto Rico became one of the first four territories in the United States of America to implement the vaccine against HPV as a school requirement in order to reduce the incidence of cancers associated with HPV on the island.

In 2019, it was guaranteed by law that all vaccination providers must report to the Immunization Registry, for that reason, specialists recognize that the case of Puerto Rico demonstrates that the development of public policies together with collaborations between academic, scientific and community coalitions, achieve population changes and measurable results aimed at the prevention of HPV.

Approval of the vaccine against HPV

In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine against HPV on the market, quadrivalent Gardasil ® (against HPV type: 16, 18, 6 and 11) for females from 9 to 26 years old.

On an ongoing basis, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended as part of routine vaccination, the three-dose series of the vaccine against HPV for girls 11 to 12 years old. This is due to the strong antibody response that occurs after vaccination at these ages (13).

In 2009, the FDA approved a second vaccine, bivalent Cervarix® (against HPV type: 16 and 18) for females from 10 to 25 years old. In that same year, the FDA approved the use of the quadrivalent Gardasil® vaccine in males between 9 and 26 years of age for the prevention of warts. However, it was not until 2011 that the flu vaccine was recommended. HPV in males aged 11 to 12 years and including the prevention of cancers related to HPV (such as cancer of the anus and oropharynx).

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