One important prevention tool against sexually transmitted infections is vaccination. Currently, vaccines are available to protect against infection with HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Other vaccines are under development, including those for HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Hepatitis B virus can be passed on by body fluids (semen, vaginal secretions, and blood) and is most often transmitted through sexual contact. It can also be contracted when injecting drug users share needles and other injecting equipment.
While hepatitis B can cause a mild illness, it can also be a more serious chronic infection, with complications including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and even liver cancer.
Hepatitis A is transmitted primarily through oral contact with feces (oral-fecal contact). This includes contaminated food or water sources and sexual contact, especially oral-anal sex.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that infect the skin. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Certain types of HPV cause warts on the hands or feet, and other types can cause warts on the genitals. Some types of genital HPV may cause genital warts, while other types of genital HPV are linked to abnormal cell changes on the cervix (detected through Pap tests) that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV vaccine can protect against types of HPV that cause most cases of warts and those that cause most cervical cancer.
Why I Vaccinate
Maria Trent, MD, MPH, knows the importance of vaccinating adolescents against HPV. She shares her experiences treating HPV disease and explains why vaccination is “a gift” for our children.