A) What is HPV infection and what are its symptoms?
Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) is a virus that is found in 99% cases of cervical cancer. Most people do not have any symptoms when they get infected with HPV. And usually, the infection gets better on its own. But in some people, the infection doesn't go away. People with a long-lasting HPV infection have a higher chance of getting cervical cancer or genital warts.These problems usually happen many years after a person is first infected.
B) What is HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccine is an injectable vaccine, which helps to prevent cancer of the cervix (lowermost part of the uterus).
C) Why should it be given?
HPV is found in 99% cases of cervical cancer. Certain high-risk HPV types (type 16/18) are responsible for up to 70% of the cases. The vaccine is very effective (~99%) in preventing HPV infection and thus the risk of cancer.
D) What is the most appropriate time to take the vaccine?
As HPV virus is mostly transmitted through sexual contact, the ideal time for taking the vaccine is before you become sexually active. The recommended schedule is between 9-14 years.
E) What is the vaccine schedule?
If you are less than 15 years old, you will be given 2 doses, 6 months apart. However, if you are more than 15 years, you will need 3 doses over a 6 month period.
F) Are there any side effects?
There can be minor side effects like pain, redness or soreness at injection site. These are short lasting. There are no major serious side effects reported.
G) Should PAP smear screening continue after vaccination also?
Vaccination reduces risk, however, PAP smear screening should continue even after vaccination.