Santa Clarita Valley health officials are seeing a rise in HPV cases, particularly in males. It’s a virus that can be vaccinated against.
There are multiple strains of the human papillomavirus, said Jill Ireland, a physician’s assistant for The Doctor’s Office in Santa Clarita.
However, most concern is linked to two strands that are linked to genital warts and cervical cancer, she said. In fact, HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women.
“We’re targeting women as young as 11 with information and the vaccine,” Ireland said.
Facey Medical Center officials have seen an unprecedented uptick in reported cases of HPV in male patients, according to officials.
The virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website.
Most infections with high-risk HPVs do not cause cancer, according to county officials.
Many HPV infections go away on their own within 1 to 2 years. However, infections that last for many years increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
However, with both vaccines, more than 99 percent of recipients develop an antibody response to HPV types included in the respective vaccines 1 month after completing the 3 dose series.
Most of the time, HPV has no symptoms so people do not know they have it.
In addition to cervical cancer, the virus causes anal and penile cancer, and genital warts.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, however, just because sexual activity is not an imminent risk in girls that age, having the conversation about the potential effects of the virus is important because it’s preventable.
“It’s always interesting trying to have that conversation with the parents in the room,” Ireland said, but she tries to explain it so that parents understand it’s not about sexual activity, it’s about disease prevention.
Children also are usually vaccinated for Hepatitis B well before they are sexually active, Ireland said, so she tries to use that as a basis for comparison.
The most common vaccination, known as Gardasil, is generally directed toward younger, single women, Ireland said, however, an unfortunate aspect of a rising divorce is that more women are put at risk.There’s also Cervarix.
“(For Gardasil, they get their first shot and then they get one two months later and then six months after the first,” Ireland said.
Both vaccines are recommended for females starting at 11 years but can be given through 26 years of age. HPV4 vaccine is recommended for males starting at age 11 years but it can be given through 21 years of age