The HPV Vaccine Works, Have Nigerians Heard About It?

By Ike A. Offor

HPV is a Human papillomavirus (HPV), (though certain types of it) is most commonly sexually transmitted, and causes cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer in females, penile cancer in males and anaal and mouth cancer in females and males.

Other types cause genital warts. Most sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives, although they usually  have no symptoms. In 9 out of 10 cases, the immune system clears the infection within two years. But persistent infection with so -called high risk HPV types can lead to cancer.

Food and Drug Administration FDA, in United States approved the first HPV vaccine in 2006, infections with the four types of HPV as targets. Merck’s Gardasil, the first FDA-approved HPV vaccine, protects against infection by two virus types that cause cancer and two that causes genital warts.

penile warts

Penile warts


In 2009 FDA also approved the GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix vaccine, which protects against the same two cancer-causing HPV types as Gardasil but not the types that cause genital warts. While Gardasil is licensed for use in females and males, Cervarix is solely for females.

cervical cancer

Cervical cancer


Despite the effectiveness of HPV vaccination in protecting against the virus types associated with these cancers, only about 40% of girls and 22% of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses, according to the 2014 National Immunization Survey-Teen. This clearly shows low rate in United States among teens.

In contrast to the United States, about 80% of adolescent boys and girls in Australia and in the United Kingdom have received all three doses, according to Markowitz, a CDC medical epidemiologist.

However, Markowitz’s latest study and other research suggest that two doses of HPV vaccine might be effective as three.

Gardasil 9, targets five more cancer-causing HPV types than the original Gardasil. The two targeted by the original Gardasil cause about 70% of cervical cancers, while the five additional cancer-causing types targeted by Gardasil 9 cause about 15% to 20% of cervical cancers.

It is recommended that people who have received one or two doses of the original Gardasil complete the three-dose regimen with Gardasil 9.

The great question is have Nigerians ever heard of this vaccine that could protect them against these cancer-causing virus? This same very virus does cause throat cancer, which can be contracted through oral sex. So, vaccination is extremely important, and I hope such exist for Nigerians within our shores.

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