By Harmony Phuong Huynh
What is Gardasil?
Gardasil is the first available vaccine against genital human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. There are various strains of HPV. Made by the company Merck Inc., the vaccine protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 in both males and females (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Human Papillomavirus”; Cerner Multum, Inc.). Gardasil protects both males and females from anal cancer and precancerous lesions caused by those four HPV types. In girls and young women of ages 9 to 26, this vaccine protects against HPV types 16 and 18 that are the cause of nearly 75% of cervical cancer cases, 70% of vaginal cancer cases, and 50% of vulvar cancer cases. In females, Gardasil also protects against types 6 and 11 that are the cause of 90% of genital warts cases. In boys and men of ages 9 to 26, the FDA approved Gardasil for the prevention of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11, which constitute 90% of genital warts cases (Cerner Multum, Inc.; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Gardasil”).
It is important to note that Gardasil may not completely protect anyone, nor has it been shown to protect against diseases associated with the other 26 or more sexually transmitted HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. This vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancer cases, making it crucial for women who have (or have not) been vaccinated to continue routine cervical cancer screenings, such as annual pap smears. In addition, Gardasil is not a treatment for cancer or genital warts and is not effective for those who already been infected with HPV (Cerner Multum, Inc.).
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