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First the bad news on Human Papilllomavirus (HPV): It is one of the most highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the world. “HPV is very, very common,” says Dr. Gerard Vincent Wain, director and senior staff specialist of the Gynecological Oncology unit at the Westmead Hospital in NSW, Australia. [firstpara]

In a talk on HPV hosted Merck Sharpe & Dohme held at Edsa Shangri-La, Mandaluyong City, July 28, 2009, Dr. Wain said, “HPV commonly affect 80 percent of the population—both in males and females—and is very, very infectious. If a couple has unprotected sexual activity, and one of them happens to be infected with HPV, there’s a 50 percent chance the virus will be transmitted to the other partner.”

More than 40 HPV types have been identified—and all affect the genital area and can lead to vulval, vaginal, penile and anal cancers. HPV 16 and 18, cites Dr. Wain specifically, are the most dangerous, causing about as they cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer. Head and neck cancers can also be attributed to HPV, owing to what people’s changing sexual behaviors and patterns. 

Those who are sexually active also carry a lifetime risk of developing genital warts, 90 percent of which are caused by HPV 6 and 11. Dr. Wain stresses that the ill effects of genital warts extend well beyond the disease itself: “Those who have been affected by genital warts reported recurring medical problems, sexual difficulties, psychosocial distress, financial burden and social isolation.”
Dr. Wain says that the use of a quadrivalent HPV recombinant vaccine, which protects from HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18, can help prevent HPV’s spread. While the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) had initially approved the vaccine for women aged 9 to 45, the vaccine has recently been okayed for men aged 9 to 26. Because HPV has significant effect on men and their partners and new infections transmit faster and more often among the sexually active younger set, Dr. Wain deems early vaccination very important.

Want to learn more about HPV? We’ve listed the facts here!

WORDS: Gelo Gonzales

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