Public Health Concerns With The Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

2130 words - 9 pages

Sexuality is an essential part of being a human being. Passionate emotions such as love, affection and sexual intimacy contribute to our overall well being and our healthy relationships. However, with these positive aspects of human sexuality, there are also several illness and unintended consequences that can severely affect our sexual health. With the incidence rate for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) on the rise, it is important to address the public health concerns that are associated with disease. Since the creation of the HPV vaccine, public health policies have made HPV a serious women’s health issues due to its increased risk associated with cervical cancer. Despite that fact that numerous amount of literature shows that the HPV vaccine has demonstrated a 90-100% efficacy in preventing cervical cancer, there seems to still be a continual public health concern regarding the moral aspects of the age of administrating the vaccine is related to the lack of public awareness about HPV itself.

Background on HPV and HPV Vaccine Development:
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting woman worldwide; with approximately 500,000 new cases, diagnosed annually and around 270,000 deaths are attributed to cervical cancer itself (Descamps et al., 2009, p. 332). Research has actually shown that persistent infection with an oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) type is the necessary step in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer (Descamps et al., 2009, p. 332). There are more than 100 types of HPV viruses and there are 40 anogenital types and approximately 15 have an oncogenic origin (Schiffman & Castle, 2003).
The Human papilloma viruses (HPVs) are DNA viruses that infect the skin or mucosa (Fernandez, Allen, Mistry, & Kahn, 2010, p. 235). This virus is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner, which affects mostly the genitals, mouth and throat (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). Studies show that at least 30 types of HPV can infect the genital tract and they are divided into two categories: low risk types, which cause benign epithelial lesions, and high risk types, which cause the development of cervical cancer (Cuschieri, Horne, Szarewski, & Cubie, 2006). Epidemiologic classification studies show that HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70 % of cervical cancers world wide and HPV-6 and HPV-11 account for 90 % of genital warts in both men and women (Hutchinson & Klein, 2008, p. 2106). Infection with HPV often occurs within the first few months with sexual initiation and peak incidences occur in 15-to 24 year old men and women (Fernandez et al., 2010, p. 235). It is generally known that young sexual active men and women have increased risk for HPV and the most frequent risk factors are related to sexual behavior, including the number of sexual partners, the partners’ sexual history (lifetime and recent) and age (younger than 25 years) (Hutchinson & Klein, 2008).
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