HPV Cases Are Drastically Down Thanks to the Vaccine
Recent reports show that HPV diagnoses are down majorly, but it’s still unclear whether or not this will translate into long-term decreases in diagnoses.
Ten years after the vaccine for HPV, or human papillomavirus, was introduced, reports like this one from CBS News are showing that numbers of teenage girls diagnosed with the sexually transmitted virus have reduced by approximately two-thirds. For women in their twenties, the number of reduced cases is more like a third, but that’s still a lot.
The means, theoretically, that fewer women will develop cervical cancer, since it’s mainly caused by HPV. Cases of genital warts caused by HPV should also be reduced.
But most of the time, if your case of HPV doesn’t turn into cervical cancer or warts, it’s not a huge deal aside from the stigma and confusion surrounding the diagnosis. It’s tough to even get a straight answer from your gyno sometimes.
“[Doctors will tell patients] HPV is nothing to worry about because ‘everyone in your age group has it,'” one woman told Buzzfeed. “He basically sent me on my way and said it would clear up on its own. So, I’m still unsure as to whether I have it, and still mildly scared and uneducated as to whether I will be able to have kids when the time comes.”
Or, sometimes doctors will recommend their patients that have been diagnosed with HPV take vitamins, helping their system to flush it out. Once diagnosed, the important thing is regularly monitor your cervix in order make sure the HPV cells haven’t developed into cancer cells.
In an effort to make the vaccine less about sex, and more about cancer, many cancer centers have endorsed it, stating that it’s a great way to prevent against at least nine strains of the virus that would lead to the 27,000 reported cases of cervical cancer annually. But we’ll probably have to wait another 10 years to see the vaccine does anything to prevent against cervical cancer, as cancer doesn’t normally develop in young girls anyway.
Some experts say the vaccine wears off after five years, although that’s been debated. It also isn’t recommended for women in their late 20s or older. So there’s no guarantee yet that the women being saved from HPV now won’t contract it later on in life. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
In this and other ways, we have yet to see the long-term effects of the vaccine. Either way, always, duh, use a condom.