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Wear The Gown: Stressing the importance of the HPV vaccine

"HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection."

SAN ANTONIO — 90 percent of all cervical cancers are caused by an HPV infection. The infection and the cancer is avoidable with regular Pap smears and an HPV vaccine. 

"The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine to be given at adolescent age between the ages of 11 and 12 years old, so that's a lot younger than the typical patient I encounter," said Dr. Erin Mankus who is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UTHealth San Antonio, and works as an obstetrician and gynecologist within the University Health System. 

She tells us education about the vaccine is key. Dr. Mankus added, "Even though the recommended age is between 11 and 12, most women I encounter for the first gynecological exam don't know about the vaccine, don't know if they received the vaccine, so there is a lot of counseling during the exam about the availability and the benefits of a vaccine."

That yearly well-woman exam includes a depression screen, a drug and alcohol abuse screen, a rundown of the patient's medical history, gynecological complaints if there are any and normal components of an annual physical. 

Dr. Mankus told us, "All the normal components of an annual exam. Heart, lungs, abdominal exam, but also breast and pelvic exam."

The vaccination is as important for young boys as it is for girls. Four out of 10 cancers that are related to the HPV virus are cancers that are affected in young men. So it's very important for parents to understand that their sons should be included in the group that receives the vaccine. 

Dr. Mankus added, "HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection. 80 percent of people will be infected by HPV. That's about 14 million Americans every year."

So get that shot, avoid the HPV virus and cancer, and wear that gown. "Vaccination before infection is the key," said Dr. Mankus.

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, go to Wear The Gown's website

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