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15May

Nobody likes needles – despite being small, they can make even a grown man cry. But needles reach a new level of “scary” among parents with the advent of HPV vaccination as they ask themselves, “Do I have to give my 9-year-old daughter a vaccine that will protect her from a disease she will most likely get when she has sex?”

If you have a young daughter, would you give her a shot that would protect her from a sexually-transmitted disease? Can you even imagine your school-age daughter having sex when she gets older, more so get an STD?

These are tough questions to answer. From the get-go, the obvious answer is yes – any parent would want a daughter to get vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus. After all, HPV causes hard-to-treat genital warts and yes, even cervical cancer! But many parents have politely declined.

HPV Vaccination: Should You Have Second Thoughts?

In a recent survey on Cervical & HPV Vaccination Awareness by talkhealth, more than 87 percent of 515 women refused to get their daughters vaccinated. Parents are having second thoughts, arguably because of the many myths surrounding HPV vaccination.

Here are the more popular ones – and I seriously hope these aren’t your reasons for postponing your young daughter’s vaccination.

HPV VACCINE MYTH #1: “My daughter will never get an STD – she’s not going to be that kind of woman.”

I say this is a myth, if only because people think this is reason enough for their daughters to forego HPV shots. Even if your daughter were to share her bed with just one man in the future – her husband – what are the chances that her hubby already shared his bed with other women?

Read: A woman who remains loyal to one man can still get infected with HPV and be at risk for cervical cancer.

HPV VACCINE MYTH #2: “My daughter is most likely never going to get HPV infection, genital warts, or cervical cancer!”

Most people think that cancer “happens to other people, not to us”. I’m sorry to disappoint you, folks, but cancer can knock on anybody’s door. Is your daughter’s door locked and bolted?

Studies have shown how HPV vaccination can lower infection and, in turn, lower the risk for cervical cancer and genital warts. Five years after Australia started their HPV vaccination program, they saw a decline in genital warts by more than 92 percent in females less than 21 years old.

HPV VACCINE MYTH #3: “There is no need for HPV shots; HPV infection isn’t that common, anyway.”

Many parents use this excuse to justify their squeamishness, but this statement is far from the truth. In the five-year Australian study, about 9 percent of more than 85,000 women had genital warts. And that statistic doesn’t even cover the women who have already been infected but are still asymptomatic!

HPV VACCINE MYTH #4: “HPV infection rarely causes cervical cancer, so there’s no reason to have our daughter vaccinated against it.”

Although cancer is starting to decline in the United States, HPV-linked cancer is actually on the rise, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in January 2013.

Remember that up to 93 percent of cervical cancer cases are linked to HPV. There is no question: The virus behind genital warts gets the credit for more than 9 out of 10 cervical cancer cases.

HPV VACCINE MYTH #5: “Our daughter is too young to get vaccinated; besides, she will get the same benefits when she gets vaccinated in her twenties.”

Interestingly, although females less than 21 years old who had HPV shots had a much lower incidence of genital warts, there was no such decline observed among women more than 30 years of age. This supports the preventive value of HPV vaccination: The vaccine works best to prevent the consequences of HPV infection – such as cervical cancer and genital warts – before your daughter gets infected.

It then makes sense to administer the HPV vaccine before a girl grows into a sexually-mature lady.

Although the science is sound, many parents all over the world still hesitate to give HPV shots to their nine-year-old daughters. I sympathize with them, I really do – but I sympathize more with young women who have to battle cervical cancer just because their parents were squeamish. Then again, that’s just me.

Dr. Stef dela Cruz shares information on the challenges of establishing a nationwide HPV vaccination program in her country. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.

  

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