Most sexually active people in the United States (U.S.) will have HPV at some time in their lives. There are more than 40 types of HPV that are passed on through sexual contact.
Partners usually share HPV. If you have been with your partner for a long time, you probably have HPV already. Most sexually active adults will have HPV at some time in their lives. Men with healthy immune systems rarely develop health problems from HPV.
How about some numbers:
Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.
HPV is typically transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. The virus may also spread by touching something that has been contaminated with the virus and then touching the skin, although how often this occurs, if at all, is not known.
Transmission most often occurs from another person. It is possible for a person to infect themselves, although this is thought to be a rare method of transmission.
It is not known if HPV transmission can occur when the levels of the virus in the body are low or undetectable.
Three, it usually does not present any symptoms but it does cause cervical cancer, among other cancers. Thus, inoculating against HPV is an inoculation against cervical cancer, among other forms of cancer that HPV can lead to. But most of the time, HPV doesn't lead to anything and people never know they have it.
Four, there are actually two vaccines for HPV:
- Girls and women: Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) are available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. One of these vaccines (Gardasil) also protects against most genital warts. Gardasil has also been shown to protect against anal, vaginal and vulvar cancers. Either vaccine is recommended for 11 and 12 year-old girls, and for females 13 through 26 years of age, who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. These vaccines can also be given to girls beginning at 9 years of age. It is recommended to get the same vaccine brand for all three doses, whenever possible.
- Boys and men: One available vaccine (Gardasil) protects males against most genital warts and anal cancers. This vaccine is available for boys and men, 9 through 26 years of age.
Cervarix is the newer of the two, and was not approved until 2009. So during the time frame of the Texas controversy, Gardasil was the only available vaccine against HPV. Neither vaccine has been scientifically linked with any serious side effects. The CDC does alert Americans to one side effect that hasn't come up on a talk show yet:
The most common side effect is soreness in the arm.
That would be from the government needle, not the vaccine itself.
Texas is a border state. That border is unsecured and has been for years. Diseases travel north across that border every single day and often end up being carried into our schools, playgrounds, malls and towns.
Now that we've had our health and communicable disease lesson for the day, can we get back to bashing the walking, talking, job killing disaster that is Barack Obama?
More: I've said it before but it bears repeating, that the mandate was bad policy. That's the kind of policy that should be moved through the legislature so the people's reps have their say. It's the current hysteria about the vaccine itself that, to me, is shrill and unbecoming.
More: Dr. Henry Miller offers some good advice for politicians and bloggers alike.