Did you know that most forms of cervical cancers are related to or originates from human papillomavirus (HPV)?
Most adults or individuals, who have been sexually active experience HPV infection at some point in their lifetime. Although there are approximately 150 types of HPV, most of which heal on their own, sometimes, the infection can result in severe health issues. Every year, on an average 14 million people suffer from HPV and some don’t even realize that they are suffering from an infection. When the infection doesn’t heal naturally, it causes genital warts, cancer, and other health problems.
HPV prevention programs and vaccination reduces the impact of the virus significantly. Young adults or teens should receive the vaccine for enhanced immune response toward HPV infection. Additionally, proper HPV prevention school sessions should be delivered to ensure proper understanding of HPV-related health issues and encourage students to suffering from it to come forward and seek medical attention.
Who Should Attend the HPV Prevention Programs?
According to The American Cancer Society, boys and girls of the age of 11 to 12 years are at the ideal age for receiving the HPV vaccination. This is also the right age for them to get enrolled in the HPV prevention program. However, The American Cancer Society believes that vaccination can also be initiated or received at the age of 9.
Apart from young adults, HPV vaccination is suggested to:
- Males and females of the age of 13-26, who have not received the vaccination or the full course of HPV.
- 26-year-old or younger males, who are sexually active with other males.
- Individuals, who have a weak immune system – if they have not been vaccinated previously.
Ideally, children of the age of 11 to 16 should participate in HPV prevention programs. The intervention should be focused on educating young adults about the causes and adverse effects of the HPV infection, how it can be treated and healed. The parameters of how the infection spreads and who is susceptible to its negative impact should also be explained.
How Does the Infection Spread?
Since most of the people experience HPV infection once in their lifetime, it is essential to deliver knowledge of how HPV spreads. Here are the common ways through which HPV infection spreads:
- Skin-to-skin contact which occurs when in contact with an infected body part of the individual.
- Sexual contact with an infected individual.
The infection doesn’t spread through food, swimming pools, or toilet seats.
4 Reasons to Implement HPV Prevention Program
Knowledge of both HPV prevention program and vaccination can help individuals, who do not have any sexual experience. Even people who are already sexually active or have suffered from HPV infection in the past can take precautions from preventing it in the future with vaccination. Though the vaccine and prevention program won’t help in alleviating the symptoms of an existing HPV infection, it can strengthen your immune system response to future HPV attacks.
We have listed out a few reasons why every school or educational authority should implement an HPV prevention program.
1. HPV Infection is Common
An HPV infection is extremely common. People, who have been in skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or have had sex with an infected individual can receive the virus easily. Most of the times, the infection will cure in due time and the individuals won’t even realize the presence of the virus. However, at other times, it leads to severe reactions or health issues such as vaginal, cervical, or vulvar cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and throat or anal cancer in both men and women.
2. Vaccination Can Prevent Infections
The vaccination for HPV was introduced more than 10 years ago. Since then, the occurrence of HPV infection has decreased in young adults to a great extent. Vaccination can boost our immune system to fight the infection and stop it from converting into a dangerous or fatal illness. HPV vaccination additionally helps in protecting the individual from meningitis, whooping cough, and other such illnesses.
3. Vaccination Can Prevent Cancer
In the US, HPV alone is the reason for over 33,700 cancer cases and vaccination can reduce the count by approximately 90%. In fact, the risk of all the types of cancers originating from the HPV virus can be reduced with HPV vaccination.
4. Long-Term Safety
The United States alone accounts for 100 million HPV vaccine doses. It decreases the risks of fatal HPV-related health problems and boosts the functioning of the immune system to fight infection. However, there are some side-effects of the vaccination, which should be explained to students during HPV prevention programs. This is necessary to ensure medical guidance in case any child suffers side-effects.
What Does Research Say?
A study or program carried out to spread awareness about human papillomavirus infection involved secondary school children of 16 years. In total, 832 students or young adults were invited to attend the intervention, of which 751 showed up. Of the 741 that completed the study or interview showed signs of improvement.
To all these students, nurses dispersed the knowledge regarding HPV infection, how it spreads, how it leads to cancer and other illnesses, and how it can be prevented. During these sessions, the students were also taught about the importance of using a condom for preventing HPV infection. As a result, significant improvement was seen in form of increased condom use with a new partner and many girls from the intervention group got vaccinated for enhanced protection against HPV.
In one of the research, 51 individual intervention studies were evaluated and divided into two groups- 31 environmental studies and 18 behavioral studies. The environmental studies were found to be more effective in increasing access to HPV vaccination. These studies reached a wider set of audience.
The behavioral studies were successful in a small community or group, where the preventive and safety measures were promoted along with knowledge on HPV vaccination.
To enable young adults and students to receive HPV vaccination and use preventive measures, proper educational intervention is required. Without the necessary knowledge, it is unlikely for young adults or teens to seek optimal prevention methods. Hence, school authorities can play a major role in implementing HPV prevention programs in order to promote safe sexual behavior and proper vaccination.