The Food and Drug Administration previously approved the HPV vaccine for use in pre-teens through age 26. Now they’ve approved one brand of the vaccine to cover men and women between ages 27 and 45.
The vaccine, Gardasil 9, protects against multiple strains of the human papillomavirus, a virus that affects one in four people in the United States, according to the CDC. The FDA made the decision after finding that Gardasil 9 prevented at least 90 percent of HPV cases.
HPV is typically transmitted through sexual activities. For most people, the infection will eventually go away on its own. For others, the infection lingers. This type of infection causes additional health problems, including cervical and other kinds of cancer.
Warts and lesions are the most common indication of HPV. However, many of the strains that lead to cancer do not cause visible signs. The types of cancer caused by HPV, such as cervical cancer, are often asymptomatic in their early stages, making them difficult to catch and diagnose. The HPV vaccine can help eliminate the risks.
It works by encouraging the body to produce antibodies. If the human papillomavirus later comes into contact with these antibodies, they inhibit the virus from causing an infection. While this is most useful as a preventative measure, the vaccine can also protect infected people from strains of the virus that they haven’t been exposed to.
Because it prevents HPV infections, it also greatly reduces the risk of related cancers. The CDC states that it has a nearly 100 percent effective rate in preventing cervical cancer.
By extending the age range of those who can receive the HPV vaccine, the FDA has opened up cancer prevention to a wider group of men and women. This is especially important given the growing number of singles in this age group, along with increasing amounts of STIs.