In the summer of 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Human Papillomavirus vaccine.
Through this vaccine, students are able to protect themselves from a virus that effects at least 50 percent of sexually active people.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, every year HPV affects about 6.2 million people in the United States and is most common in young adults in their late teens and early 20’s. The major difference between this STD and any others is the fact that is has a vaccine.
The new vaccine, Gardasil, is best used for women aged 9 to 26 against HPV.
This virus also affects men, not as severely as women. In women, HPV causes cancer, but in both men and women it can cause genital warts.
According to the CDC, Gardasil protects against four HPV types, types 6, 11, 16, and 18, which causes 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.
This vaccine is taken only three times, with each injection costing $129.00 at FAMU’s health clinic.
The total cost comes close to $400, and if the cost is not covered by health insurance college students may not be able to afford it, and might wait until they receive better insurance plans.
Since the CDC has reported 80 percent of women contract HPV before they turn 50, the vaccine Gardasil is something that shouldn’t be delayed.
Jennifer Harrison-Hauer, a health educator at FAMU said although the fee is a problem she believes your health is priceless.
Even if students do not put a price tag on health, some may be weary of the new vaccines effectiveness and even side effects.
As stated by the CDC, studies indicate the vaccine is almost 100 percent effective in preventing diseases caused by the four HPV types. Gardasil is best taken before you become sexually active.
“It is just for prevention, it doesn’t treat or get rid of it,” said Sharron Foster, a doctor at the FAMU health clinic, “Even if you are sexually active, it is still a benefit.”
Gardasil is as simple as three injections, and if taken at the right time, can save people from cancer.
“I would take whatever safe vaccines they come up with, even if it’s against a diseases in water, I’m taking it,” says Schebonia Sainvil, 20, a junior nursing student from Orlando.
While this vaccine protects from certain types of HPV, it does not protect from any other cancers and even after receiving the vaccination, safe sex should persistently be practiced.
One of the problems concerning Gardasil is not the drug itself and its physical effects, but more so the psychological effects it may have on students.
“A lot of people think that it’s a free pass not to be conscientious,” Foster said. “Although Gardasil protects against the four major types, there are over 100 types of HPV, and it doesn’t treat cervical cancer, warts or STDs.”
According to the CDC, this vaccine has been tested in over 11,000 females around the world, and the studies have shown no major side effects. However, this vaccine does not treat existing HPV infections.
“It is the only vaccine available at this time that helps prevent cervical cancer at this time, but prevention doesn’t stop when you have been vaccinated,” Harrison-Hauer said. “Remember to continue annual Pap smears, which screens against all cervical cancer.”