Disease Prevention & Vaccines
Adolescent Vaccines & Disease Prevention at Mary Washington Healthcare
At Mary Washington Healthcare, we provide a broad range of services for
adolescents in our community. This includes vaccinations and education
regarding disease prevention. Schedule an appointment with a doctor at
Mary Washington Hospital to learn more.
Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), approximately
19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in
the United States each year. About half of these patients are between
the ages of 15 and 24.
Some types of STDs include:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital herpes
Ask your child’s doctor about how to help protect your adolescent
child from contracting STDs. While abstaining from sexual activity is
the best way to avoid contraction of a sexually transmitted disease, there
are steps that can be taken to prevent the development of an STD. Regular
checkups are also important, particularly for sexually active adolescents,
as many STDs—if caught early—can be effectively treated.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is actually a group of over 100 different types
of viruses, and it is the most common STD in the U.S. One symptom of HPV
is genital warts. They can also lead to cancer. It’s important to
schedule regular checkups to ensure early detection of HPV. People who
become sexually active at young ages or who have a high number of sexual
partners are at higher risk of contracting HPV.
There are currently multiple vaccines available to prevent HPV infections,
including Gardasil—which was approved by the United States Food
& Drug Administration in 2006—and Cervarix, which received FDA
approval in 2009. Both are administered in a series of three separate
injections over a period of six months, and should be given before the
individual is sexually active or exposed to HPV.
When to Receive the HPV Vaccine
Girls aged 11 to 12 can receive either vaccine. Girls / women aged 13 to
26 can also receive the vaccine if they did not do so at an earlier age
or if they did not receive all the shots in their vaccination series.
Boys aged 9 to 26 may receive Gardasil prior to becoming sexually active
to prevent HPV.
HPV Vaccinations & Cervical Cancer
The American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians &
Gynecologists recommend women schedule their first Pap test screening
for cervical cancer at age 21. Adolescents who are sexually active are
at an increased risk of contracting HPV, which is responsible for causing
most types of cervical cancer among other cancers. Women are encouraged
to schedule Pap screenings every two to three years between the ages of
21 and 30. The HPV vaccination is also an effective way to prevent the
forms of HPV that cause cancer. Adolescents should receive the vaccine
before they become sexually active. Ask your doctor if you have questions
about when to schedule a Pap test.