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If you’ve had sex, should you get the HPV vaccine?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the virus that causes human papillomavirus. In which, strains 16, 18 have the ability to cause cervical cancer. More than 90% of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus. However, not everyone infected with HPV will develop cervical cancer. HPV can live and grow silently in the body, not producing any symptoms. Vaccination against HPV virus is a way to prevent up to 90% of the risk of infection.

In Vietnam, the HPV vaccine is indicated for women between the ages of 9 and 26, regardless of whether they have had sex or been infected with the HPV virus. In fact, the HPV virus is very easy to re-infect, that is, after the body eliminates the virus, it can still be re-infected and the body’s natural immunity is not enough to prevent it. Besides, there are many different types of HPV. Getting vaccinated helps you avoid getting other types of HPV that you don’t already have.

However, the HPV vaccine does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, nor does it prevent or treat other infections or diseases caused by viruses. Women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to follow the same cervical cancer screening recommendations as unvaccinated women.

In addition, there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine will affect pregnancy or harm the unborn baby. However, pregnant women can wait after giving birth to get injections to ensure the safety of both mother and child.

The HPV vaccine is usually quite safe. Some post-injection symptoms such as pain in the injection site, mild fever, headache, fatigue, nausea… are quite rare, usually mild and transient.

If you are sensitive to any component of the vaccine; have an acute high fever, moderate or severe infection; thrombocytopenia, a clotting disorder, or are taking blood-thinning medications; pregnant or breastfeeding… should not inject.

Three vaccines to prevent infection with HPV viruses, especially types 16 and 18, have been approved for use: Gardasil, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix.

Doctor Ha Hai Nam
Deputy Head of Department of Gastroenterology 1, K Hospital (Hanoi)

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