by Rachel Burt, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Roswell OB/GYN…………………………………
I’ve heard it from my friends, “I’m not giving my daughter the HPV vaccine. She’s never had sex.” Okay, I hope your daughter isn’t having sex at 11 years old. But, I promise you she will likely have sex at some point in her life. What my friends are not saying is, “I don’t want to think about my daughter having sex,” or “if I give her the vaccine, she will think it is permission to have sex”. I hope a newly released study will help change their minds.
A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute evaluating the quadrivalent vaccine (gardasil), demonstrated the incidence of genital warts, or condyloma, declined by 93 percent in girls given the HPV vaccine before the age of 14. Whereas those who received the vaccine after age 20, realized less than 50 percent reduction. The article based upon a Swedish study of 124, 000 girls and women, examined the effect of the vaccine over 4.4 years. The effects on cervical cancer prevention are still under investigation as effects take longer to manifest.
I hope this study encourages mothers to get their daughters vaccinated against the HPV virus at the recommended ages of 11-12, rather than waiting until they are ready to go off to college. The study suggests earlier vaccination provides better protection. Rather than perceiving the vaccine as permission to have sex, I would suggest it be used as a conversation starter with our daughters and sons. It is so important to talk with our children about possible unsafe situations and how to handle them. As parents, I hope we can create a safe environment for our children to come to us to talk about difficult decisions even if the conversations make us uncomfortable.
If you have any concerns, please schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider at 770 751 3600.
Publication: ‘Quadrivalent HPV-Vaccine Effectiveness: A Swedish National Cohort Study’, Amy Leval, Eva Herweijer, Alexander Ploner, Sandra Eloranta, Julia Fridman Simard, Joakim Dillner, Cecilia Young, Eva Netterlid, Pär Sparén, Lisen Arnheim-Dahlström, Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) online 13 March 2013. Embargoed until March 13th 2013 at 4 PM