11 December, 2011
Parents Vaccinate Your Daughter with the HPV Vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that not too many people are aware of, but should be. There is no way to predict who will and who won’t be affected by the virus. So what is HPV? It’s a virus that could cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women. This virus often does not have signs or symptoms, so that means you can get the virus or pass it on to your partner without knowing you are being infected or infecting someone else. Imagine your daughter calling you and saying her results from a routine yearly examination came back positive for HPV, a virus that does not have a cure, but could have been prevented with a vaccine. This is a virus with serious health consequences; therefore, parents should consider vaccinating their children against the human papillomavirus.
According to Director of Infection Prevention/Employee Health and Environmental Service Patti Willmore, “HPV is 100% preventable, unlike other diseases.” She also adds that, “HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. The majority of the infections cause no symptoms, which is why HPV is called the silent infection.” There are over 40 types of HPV that infect the genital area and are categorized in certain areas. HPV-16 and 18 are the two types that cause cervical cancer. These two types of HPV are in the two vaccines that are now on the market: Gardasil and Cervarix (Eldridge 238). Gardasil also protects against HPV-6 and 11 and is available for girls between the ages of nine and twenty-six.
One reason parents should vaccinate their children with the HPV vaccine is to protect them from cancers associated with this virus. Human papillomaviruses are responsible for the most common cervical cancers (Bock). In 2005, 11,999 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,294 women died from it in the United States (Eldridge 229). This statistic is as alarming as it is of urgency to address. It’s only through education about HPV and its relationship to cervical cancer that this statistic can be reduced. As medical information on HPV is becoming more publicized, parents should realize that it’s a priority for their children to be given this vaccine, in order to reduce their chances of contracting HPV.
Another reason why parents should vaccinate their children is because of the high costs that could occur due to the health issues from HPV. First, most insurance companies will cover the majority of the cost, leaving a $25 co-pay per vaccine, for girls between the ages of nine and twenty-six (Alphonse). Now, women over the age of twenty-six, will pay $360 for the three dose series. This might sound like an expensive vaccine, but if it prevents the two strains of cancer caused by HPV, it’s well worth the cost. Another thing to consider are the serious health consequences that could happen by not being vaccinated for HPV. For example, the high price tag on cancer treatments. One treatment for cervical cancer will be chemotherapy. Chemotherapy costs depend on several factors. A possible factor would be the type of drug received for treatment. The cost of these eight week drugs can range from $100-$30,000 with the less expensive drugs 5-FU or leucovorin costing around $300 (Ghosh). To improve the therapeutic effect, these drugs are often used in combination with newer drugs that are typically more expensive. Two of these anticancer drugs are Avastin® and Erbitux®, which can raise costs to as much as $30,000 (Ghosh). Other possible treatments for cervical cancer include surgery and radiation, which are very expensive. Not only are there out of pocket expenses, there are emotional costs as well.
One emotional cost could be the stigma attached to having a sexually transmitted disease, possibly causing withdrawal from family and friends. Depression and a feeling of being