Understanding HPV

The Human Papillomavirus can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or through sexual activity.

Although HPV often goes away on its own, certain types can cause medical concerns, from genital warts to cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the main cause of invasive cervical cancer (ICC) in women, and an important cause of vaginal, vulvar and anal cancer in women as well as anal and penile cancer in men.

Kenya has a population of 16.2 million women ages 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Current estimates indicate that every year 5236 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3211 die from the disease. Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Kenya and the 2nd most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. About 9.1% of women in the general population are estimated to harbor cervical HPV-16/18 infection at a given time, and 63.1% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18.

The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect children and adults from HPV-related diseases.

The Kenyan Government, global experts and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that preteens receive the vaccine at around age 11 or 12 years old. This ensures that they’re protected against HPV before they’re likely to have exposure to the virus. You can get the vaccine until age 45.

The HPV vaccine isn't recommended for pregnant women or people who are moderately or severely ill. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies, including an allergy to yeast or latex. Also, if you've had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of the vaccine, you shouldn't get the vaccine.

Yes. Even if you already have one strain of HPV, you could still benefit from the vaccine because it can protect you from other strains that you don't yet have. However, none of the vaccines can treat an existing HPV infection. The vaccines protect you only from specific strains of HPV you haven't been exposed to already

The HPV vaccine has been found to be safe in many studies.

Overall, the effects are usually mild. The most common side effects of HPV vaccines include soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site.

Sometimes dizziness or fainting occurs after the injection. Remaining seated for 15 minutes after the injection can reduce the risk of fainting. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or weakness also may occur.

Yes. The HPV vaccine isn't intended to replace Pap tests. Routine screening for cervical cancer through regular Pap tests beginning at age 21 remains an essential part of preventive health care.

HPV spreads through sexual contact — oral, vaginal or anal. To protect yourself from HPV, be faithful, practice safe sex or abstain. In addition, don't smoke. Smoking raises the risk of cervical cancer.

To detect cervical cancer in the earliest stages, see your doctor for regular Pap tests beginning at age 21. Seek prompt medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer — vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause, pelvic pain, or pain during sex.

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