HPV vaccine now available to women through Health Services
Not just a concern for women
September 20, 2007 9:28 PM
Female students can now protect themselves from Human papillomavirus (HPV) by getting a three-shot series of vaccinations at Student Health Services.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June of 2006 and is now available at SF State. Women between the ages of nine and 26 take the vaccine over the course of six months. Student Health Services charges $145 for each shot, for a total of $435.
“It’s a prophylactic measure,” said Associate Professor of Biology, Chris Moffatt. “The majority of causes of cervical cancer are associated with HPV. With younger girls, if you vaccinate them before they have sexual intercourse, the chances are much lower.”
HPV is contracted by women from men through sexual intercourse. The vaccine protects against four of the estimated 100 HPV strains, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can cause 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts. There is no cure for HPV, but it can be treated.
According to the CDC, 20 million men and women are infected with HPV, with 6.2 million additional cases annually.
The CDC recommends that women undergo regular HPV and Pap tests to detect HPV DNA or abnormalities that may lead to cervical cancer. There is no HPV test for men.
“It’s certainly a public health risk, but there’s a behavioral control,” Moffatt said. “It’s certainly communicable, but not as readily communicable as the flu and measles.”
After seeing Gardasil advertised on television and in magazines, English major Antoinette Tran, 20, scheduled an appointment to get the vaccine while still on her father’s health insurance. She will be getting the third dose of the vaccine in December.
“I know my medical insurance is going to end soon, and I feel like a chip has been taken off of my shoulder,” Tran said. “I’m at least prevented from getting those four strains of HPV.”
While some insurance providers cover the HPV vaccine, women without health insurance may find it difficult to protect themselves. Planned Parenthood offers the vaccine for $190 per shot, and with additional visit fees, the total cost of the vaccine can vary from $663 to $867.
“As long as it’s not mandatory, the prices will stay high,” said Human Sexuality Professor Ann Auleb.
Researchers are developing and testing the HPV vaccine for men, according to the CDC. HPV is usually latent in men, and can cause penile and anal cancer, Auleb said.
According to the CDC, a potential HPV vaccine for men may indirectly benefit women.
“Whether the question men should receive it is more complicated because the benefit of men receiving that vaccine would be accrued by women,” Moffatt said. “The frequency of anal and penile cancer is relatively low compared to cervical cancer.”
Though men are less prone to anal and penile cancer, they should still consider getting the vaccine when it is available, said SF State student Kelly Ryan.
“If [men] are having sex, it should be their concern,” said Ryan, 28. “They can carry it without even knowing it. If it benefits women, it benefits them. It’s already a heavy burden that society puts on women. It’s not a female issue — it’s a people issue.”
If the HPV vaccine were available for men, Psychology student Brendan Geraghty, 20, would be concerned about the cost of the vaccine and would need to give it some more thought.
“If I were really promiscuous, I would consider getting the vaccine,” Geraghty said. “But you can never be too sure.”
Child and Adolescent Development student Michael Henry, 20, also questions the availability of the vaccine across income lines.
“Everyone wants to be healthy and secure, but will it be available to everyone or just people that can afford it?” Henry said. “Is it going to be costly for people to be safe?”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University