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Should You Get Your Child a Human Papillomavirus Vaccine?

Human papillomavirus is known to cause cervical cancer, but many people forget that it’s a sexually transmitted disease, and so can easily put your wellbeing at risk. According to a hospital release from Dr Katharine O. White, chief of general obstetrics and gynaecology at Baystate Medical Centre, ‘I can’t think of any better way to observe STD Awareness Month than for parents to consider getting their child the Gardasil vaccine to prevent them against the human papillomavirus.’

There is no treatment for human papillomavirus, which, as it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide, is a major wellness concern. More than half of sexually active men and women will become infected at some time in their lives, and White noted, ‘While the vaccine is recommended for both girls and boys ages 9 to 11, studies tell us that women up to age 26 will also benefit from being vaccinated, which is covered by insurance up to that age.’

In March, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new analysis of eight common STIs; chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus (HBV), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and trichomoniasis. The CDC report showed that up to half of all new infections each year affect the wellness of young people ages 15 to 24. White commented, ‘While this age group is the most vulnerable, anyone with a new partner or with multiple partners is also vulnerable.’

Dr. Patricia Bailey-Sarnelli, director of paediatric and adolescent gynaecologic services at Baystate, added that the need for prevention is greater than ever, but part of the problem has to do with normal adolescent psychological development. ‘Adolescents go through a phase of magical thinking where, basically, they have a sense of invulnerability, that nothing can hurt them,’ she explained. ‘For that reason, they tend to be less consistent about condom use, so that puts them at greater risk.’

Bailey-Sarnelli noted that ‘the girls I am seeing now are somewhat better informed and most talk about learning about sex in their health class at school.’ However, the CDC statistics show that more needs to be done for teen sexual health. ‘I always like to tell them that we are all sexual beings, and that the most important part of that is being a responsible sexual being – responsible to themselves, to their partners, their family, and community – and part of that includes using protection against sexually transmitted diseases.’


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