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Annual exams, vaccine could help prevent HPV

Will your son or daughter be one less person affected by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

Commercials for drugs like Gardasil® promise to keep your child safe from contracting the disease. Although it might be easy to dismiss the commercial’s message as product advertising, the threat of HPV is real.

The disease is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US and at least 75 percent of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although HPV is normally thought of as a disease passed through intercourse, you can contract the virus from any genital skin contact.

The virus often passes through the system without causing any symptoms. But signs of the disease can be anything from genital bumps to cervical and other types of cancers.

There is even a rare form of the virus that can manifest as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or RRP which blocks the airway causing a hoarse voice and trouble breathing.

Because HPV is so prevalent, doctors and the CDC recommend getting the Gardasil® vaccine to protect you or your child from contracting the virus.

The vaccine is a three shot series which occurs over six months. It is indicated for females ages 9 to 26 but can be administered to males in this age group for protection from HPV 6 and 11. Although it does not protect against every type of HPV, the vaccine will significantly reduce your chances of contracting the virus.

Annual Pap smear exams are also recommended for women as another method of helping to protect against the virus, and the cancers it causes.

For more information about Gardasil® and HPV, go to www.gardasil.com/index.html or www.cdc.gov/ or make an appointment with your Scott & White physician.

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Annual exams, vaccine could help prevent HPV