Pros and Cons About the HPV Vaccine

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The human papilloma virus, or HPV, is a viral infection primarily transmitted through sexual contact. It can cause genital warts and cervical cancer in infected people. People can reduce their risk of infection by receiving one of the two HPV vaccines available as of 2010. Prior to treatment, people should discuss the cons about the HPV vaccines with a medical professional.

Side Effects

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of patients report experiencing pain at the injection site, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injection site swelling, inflammation or redness may also affect certain patients. Additional side effects associated with either HPV vaccine include fever and headache. Certain patients may experience muscle or joint aches and pain, upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. Treatment with a HPV vaccine may also induce a brief fainting spell in patients. CDC health officials recommend that patients remain seated for at least 15 minutes following receipt of a HPV vaccine to limit the severity of dizziness or fainting side effects.

Long-Term or Severe Risks

As of 2010, the long-term risks of the HPV vaccines are not fully understood. This lack of knowledge is one of the cons about the HPV vaccines, according to Ohio State University. Severe complications have been reported by patients who have received an HPV vaccine. These complications are rare, but include Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a nerve disorder that causes severe muscle weakness, and blood clots, warns the CDC.

Limited Viral Protection

The HPV vaccines are only effective against two to four of the over 70 different strains of HPV, according to Consequently, patients who receive this vaccine may still be at risk of developing genital warts or cervical cancer caused by HPV strains that are not included in the immunization. Additionally, the HPV vaccines do not treat currently active HPV genital warts or cervical cancer, regardless of what HPV strain caused the infection.

Increased Sexual Activity

Patients predominately develop HPV after engaging in sexual activities with an infected partner. Opponents of the HPV vaccine believe that treatment of patients as young as 9 years old may result in increased sexual activity or promiscuity, notes Ohio State University, though such concerns are unfounded as of 2010.