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Immediate effects of Human Papilloma Virus vaccine not known

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Hyderabad: A tweet by actor Bipasha Basu opting for the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine has led to a lot of curiosity among young women who are calling city gynaecologists asking them if they too can opt for the vaccine.

Gynaecologists, meanwhile, maintain that the HPV vaccine has to be given before sexual activity commences.

Gynaecologist Dr Ruma Sinha of Apollo Hospitals said, “The ideal age in India to give HPV vaccine is 17 or 18 years, or before marriage. The commencement of sexual activity leads to transmission of HPV. In the Indian context, it is believed that the HPV can be transmitted to a woman once she is married.”

As 35-year-old Bipasha Basu is still unmarried, doctors opine that her opting for the vaccine is considered to be the “case of those before marriage” taking the vaccine.

Dr Sinha says, “We advise parents to opt for this vaccine for young girls or for those before marriage.”

There are 130 types of HPVs, but all of them are not cancerous. Gynaecologist Dr Manjula A. said, “The virus is transferred during sexual activity. Once a woman is sexually active, administering the vaccine is of no use. Hence, it is not useful for married women. HPV causes infections and some of the viruses die their own death over a period of time. The immune system of the body fights most of the virus.”

Scientists have identified 12 types of HPVs which can cause cancer. The most aggressive of them is HPV 16 and HPV 18. While the vaccine is being given to young girls by active parents, how it will actually work on them will be known only after 20 to 30 years.

A senior doctor said, “HPV becomes cancerous over two decades. If it is in the body, even those who have taken the vaccine have to go through the pap smear test or the screening process to verify whether it is cancerous.”

Maintaining proper hygiene is very important for women as it helps the immune system fight the virus, maintain experts. Also, building immunity levels when one is middle aged is important as once the immune system is compromised, the aggressiveness of the virus increases.

HPV is also known to cause penile cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer, oropharyengal cancer, skin warts and also larynx warts.

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