Extremely Common Among Teens
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 Kristen DiPaolo | CWK Producer
Connect With Kids
is a very common infection. When you have something that, for a
lot of people, is a silent disease, the prevalence of it is often
Bakari Morgan, M.D., pediatrician
is just 14 years old, but she is getting the new vaccine to prevent
HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.
thought it was a good thing to do, and my mom wanted me to do it,
statistics indicate getting vaccinated at Stephanies age is
a good idea, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control,
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is extremely common among teens: one
third of girls ages 14 to 24 are infected.
likely talking about girls who were sexually active, some of them
even when they were 11, 12 or 13, says Dr. Bakari Morgan,
an Atlanta-based pediatrician.
teens can get HPV before theyve ever had sex.
can definitely catch it without intercourse, explains Dr.
Morgan. Skin to skin contact is all you need.
people with HPV will develop genital warts. Others will have no
symptoms at all.
most people, HPV will resolve spontaneously, explains Dr.
Lauri Markowitz, a medical officer with the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC). So in most individuals it doesnt cause
any problems. However, in some people it can persist and lead to
changes in the cervix that lead to cervical cancer.
are more than 60 strains of HPV. According to the CDC, 2 percent
of women will catch a strain that is likely to lead to cervical
two percent is a small percentage, its a very large number,
says Dr. Morgan. If you look at a population of a hundred
million women, you are talking about two million who are going to
have that risk.
why the CDC is recommending that girls starting at ages 11 and 12
be vaccinated for HPV.
new vaccine has been controversial, with some parents choosing not
to have their children inoculated. Stephanie and her sister, Mia,
were glad to have it.
really dont want to get cancer because both of my grandparents
have had it and its really bad, explains 12-year-old
Mia. So its a nice thing to [be] prevented from that
kind of cancer.
with the vaccine, the two girls say they still plan to act responsibly.
wouldnt go out and have sex just because I have the shot,
Clinical trials show that the vaccine produces a strong antibody
response in early adolescence, making the pre-teen years a good
time to get children vaccinated. Parents should explain to their
children that getting the vaccine now helps protect them when they
are adults. (Lauri Markowitz, M.D., medical officer, Centers for
Explain to children that this vaccine will not protect them against
all sexually transmitted infections, or even all strains of HPV.
It does, however, protect 70 percent of the time against the strains
of HPV that lead to cervical cancer.(Lauri Markowitz, M.D., medical
officer, Centers for Disease Control)
The Centers for Disease Control is currently recommending that girls
ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine. However, the agency says the
vaccine is safe and FDA-approved for all females ages 9 to 26. Merck,
which manufactures the vaccine (Gardasil), is currently testing
its safety and effectiveness for boys ages 9 to 26. (Centers for
Your doctor can give you an HPV test along with a pap smear. If
you test positive for HPV, your doctor can determine whether its
a high or low risk strain for causing cervical cancer. (Scott Parry,
D.O., Internal Medicine)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National
Institutes of Health
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