HPV Vaccine

The FDA has approved a vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine is called Gardasil 9 and is currently available at Habif Health and Wellness Center.

The vaccine has been approved for individuals between the ages of 9 and 45 and is recommended for everyone in that age group, regardless of whether or not they have been previously diagnosed with HPV.

To receive the vaccine, please schedule an appointment online or with a nurse by calling 314-935-6666. If you have had a previous HPV vaccination, you must present documentation verifying the immunization.

The vaccine consists of three injections given at 0, 2 and 6 months.

What is HPV?

Genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of both males and females. These HPV types can also affect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it.

There is currently no cure for HPV once it has been contracted, but there are ways to treat HPV-related problems — for instance, warts can be removed or treated through topical medicines. However, even after treatment the virus can remain and cause recurrences.

The vaccine

In girls and women 9-45 years of age, Gardasil 9 helps protect against:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vulvar and vaginal cancers
  • Anal cancer
  • Precancerous cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal lesions
  • Genital warts

In boys and men 9-45 years of age, Gardasil 9 helps protect against:

  • Anal cancer
  • Precancerous anal lesions
  • Genital warts

These diseases have many causes. Most of the time, these diseases are caused by nine types of HPV: HPV Types 6,11,16,18,31,33,45,52,and 58.

HPV vaccine is recommended even if you have already been diagnosed with one type of HPV, since it will help prevent infection with other types.

Pregnant women should not get the HPV vaccine. Vaccinated women must still undergo regular Pap tests, since the vaccine does not provide protection against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. The time until protection wanes has not been determined. It is still unclear whether re-vaccination will be required.

Signs and symptoms of HPV

Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems from it. In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. However, there is no way to know which people who get HPV will go on to develop cancer or other health problems.

Certain types of HPV can cause genital warts in males and females: small bumps in and around the genitals (vagina, vulva, penis, testicles and anus, etc.). They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. If they do occur, warts may appear within weeks or months of having sex with an infected partner.

Other types of HPV can cause normal cells in the body to become abnormal, leading to cancer over time. The most common form is cervical cancer, but HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and head and neck (tongue, tonsils and throat). Cancer-causing HPV types do not cause symptoms until the cancer is advanced: for this reason, it is important that women have Pap tests and cervical screenings, which can help with early detection and treatment.

Rarer types of HPV can cause recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RPP), a condition which causes warts to grow in the throat. It can sometimes block the airway, causing a hoarse voice or troubled breathing. RPP can occur among adults and children.

For more information regarding the vaccine and HPV, visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.