Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)


The Human Papilloma Virus has been shown to cause cervical cancers, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts hpv-pink-zoom(Kuehn, 2006). HPV can be transmitted vertically from mother to child. The virus is transmitted through mucous membrane contact and has also been shown to infect women who have not been sexually active (Dunne and Markowitz, 2007). Some strains of the virus, such as types 6 and 11 only cause benign or low grade changes in cells of the cervix, genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomas (Dunne et al., 2007). Whereas, high risk strains are detected in ninety-nine percent of cervical cancers, seventy percent of these are currently caused by strain types 16 and 18 (Dunne et al, 2007).


Gardasil, currently the only vaccine against HPV on the market protects against strains 16 and 18 that cause seventy percent of cervical cancers and strains 6 and 11 that cause ninety percent of genital warts (Dunne et al, 2007). The studies from the above evidence are strongly persuasive to parents with regard to vaccinating their children. However, current research also suggests that ninety percent of contracted HPV infections will clear the body within two years (Dunne et al, 2007). Furthermore, some organizations have suggest that this vaccine may promote promiscuity. Individuals may falsely assume it protects against all HPV strains causing cervical cancer, as well as, other sexually transmitted diseases and that the vaccine replaces the need for routine PAP tests (Kuehn, 2006)

 The PAP test, named after physician George Papanicolaou, is the standard test used for cervical cancer detection. This test is conducted by inserting a speculum into the vagina and using a swab to obtain a sample of cervical cells. The cell sample is then examined under a microscope for abnomalities (Barter et al, 2002).


  1. Barter, James et al. 2002. Benifits and Costs of Using HPV Testing to Screen for Cervical Cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association. 287: 2372-2381.

  2. Dunne, Eileen and Markowitz, Lauri. 2007. HPV Prevalence and Transmission-Reply. Journal of the American Medical Association. 298:38.

  3.  Kuehn, Bridget, M. 2006. CDC Backs Routine HPV Vaccination. Journal of the American Medical Association. 296: 640-641.


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