HPV Vaccine

Good news, ladies!

Federal drug officials recently approved the HPV vaccine, which could potentially prevent the approximately 233,000 deaths from cervical cancer worldwide each year.

For the 9,710 American women who contracted cervical cancer this year, the news may be coming too late. But for many women, this could mean that this disease, which causes 70 percent of sex-related cancer and 90 percent of genital warts, may be a malady of the past.

So here is what you should know about Gardasil, one of the most anticipated–and expensive–vaccines ever:

When will it become available?

Gardasil, which was approved for girls and women ages 9 to 26, is currently available in doctors’ offices.

How much will it cost?

A full, three-shot course would cost $360, and the treatment must be given over a period of six months.

Will your insurance pay for it?

Private health insurers are likely to cover the vaccine for 11 and 12-year-old girls, although older women may have to pay for it themselves.

Will it prevent genital warts or cervical cancer if I’ve already been infected?

No. If girls have already been exposed, the vaccine has no effect, so health experts want to start vaccinating girls before they begin having sex.

Does the vaccine work for men?

No. The vaccine is not approved for use in boys and men, although its manufacturing company, Merck & Co, Inc., hopes one day to change that. Merck originally hoped to get the vaccine approved for male-use but found that men weren’t fond of emery boards being used to collect cells from their penises.

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