As a parent, you were probably very conscientious about taking your child to well-baby visits with your pediatrician and keeping up with recommended childhood vaccinations. But as your child hits the pre-teen years, keeping up with vaccinations might not be as automatic, and you might be putting your child's health at risk. One disease that your 11- or 12-year old should be vaccinated against is human papilloma virus (HPV). Here's what you need to know about this disease and the importance of protecting your child from it.
The Dangers of HPV
HPVs are a group of more than 100 related virus types, and are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. According to the CDC, about 14 million people in the United States, including teens, become infected with the virus each year. It is spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact, and most sexually active people will get the disease at some point.
HPV infections often go undiagnosed because the body fights off the disease before it causes symptoms. However, it the virus takes hold, it can cause health problems such as genital warts or some types of cancer.
Doctors often group HPVs into two categories: low-risk and high-risk HPVs. Low-risk HPVs can cause genital warts that, although rarely cancerous, are a nuisance. They frequently disappear within months with no treatment. High-risk HPVs can cause changes in the skin cells and become pre-cancerous. Repeated infection with high-risk HPVs are more likely to become cancerous. That's alarming for a parent of a pre-teen, but thankfully, there is a way to prevent HPV-related cancers.
The best way to prevent HPV cancers is to prevent HPV infections. Abstinence is of course effective, and latex condoms prevent skin-to-skin contact and therefore prevent infection. But talking with your pre-teen about abstinence and condoms is sometimes ineffective. A better way is to get your child vaccinated against HPV. An HPV immunization can prevent the STD and several types of associated cancers in women, including cervical, vaginal, throat and tonsil cancers. In men, the vaccine can prevent cancers of the penis, throat and tonsils.
Boys and girls between 11 and 12 should receive the HPV vaccination. Your child's pediatrician will give the vaccination in a series of 3 shots over 6 months. In case of skipped vaccinations, an individual can get the vaccine up until 26 years of age.
But My Child Is Not Sexually Active
Even though your child is not currently having sex, he or she might be in a few years. It's important your child have all 3 shots and time to build immunity before having any sexual contact with another person. Plus, the immune system responds to the HPV vaccine better in pre-teens, so you're giving your child better protection by vaccinating early.
HPV is not just about warts. It's a serious, even life-threatening, risk to your child's health. If your pre-teen has not been vaccinated, get him or her protected now, before the risk becomes real. Talk to clinics like Entira Family Clinics to see what vaccinations they offer.
I am one of those people who hates going to the doctor. In the past, I have relied on everything from cranberry juice to apple cider vinegar to fix my ails. As I get older though, I find that I need to rely more on traditional medicine than I did in the past. What I found out from my doctor is that I did not have to give up the holistic medicines I used. I could combine them. This blog is designed to help others focus on how to combing holistic treatments with traditional medicine in a safe and fun way.