What You Should Know About HPV and How Vaccination Protects You

HPV Vaccine Malaysia. Why You Should Get Immunised - DoctorOnCall

What is HPV

HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is a virus that can infect both males and females. HPV infection is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact, but it can also be passed on through skin-to-skin contact. Most of the time, HPV infection doesn't cause any symptoms and resolve on its own.

There are more than 100 HPV types, and some are more likely to cause cancer than others. HPV-related cancer includes cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penile cancers, cancer in the anus, and oropharynx (throat). Besides cancer, genital HPV infection can also cause genital warts.

HPV and cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the cancers that is caused by the Human Papillomavirus. HPV is a very common virus, and most people who are sexually active will get it at some point in their lives. Most people who get human papillomavirus will never develop cervical cancer. However, some types of HPV can increase a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. The cervix is a small, funnel-shaped opening that connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cancer usually occurs when abnormal cells grow on the cervix. These abnormal cells can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.

There are two main types of cervical cancer:

  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • adenocarcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the flat, thin cells that line the surface of the cervix. Adenocarcinoma begins in the glandular cells that produce mucus and other fluids. Cervical cancer can also be classified as Stage I, II, III, or IV, depending on how far it has spread.

Cervical cancer is most often found in women aged 30 years or older. However, it can occur at any age. Women who have had the HPV vaccine are less likely to develop cervical cancer. Other factors that may increase your risk include smoking, having HIV or another condition that weakens your immune system, and long-term consumption of birth control pills.

Cervical cancer screening also may detect abnormal cells in the cervix called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). CIN is not cancerous. It is also caused by HPV infections. However, it is known as a cancer precursor and may potentially progress to cancer.

How to prevent cervical cancer?

There are several ways to help prevent cervical cancer, including

  • Human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV)

Human papillomavirus can cause changes in the cells of the cervix, and it is estimated that more than 90% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection. The human papillomavirus vaccine is very effective at protecting against HPV infection and reducing cancer risk. HPV vaccine uptake among women in Malaysia is still low with only 1 in 3 girls aged 13-17 years having received the HPV vaccine.

According to Cervical Cancer Research, the HPV vaccine is able to prevent diseases and infection of a few types of HPV.

  • Having a regular Pap smear

Regular Pap smears can help to detect early signs of cervical cancer so that treatment can be started as soon as possible. This is a form of cervical cancer screening which should be done in women aged 21 years and older, or as recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Having regular medical checkups

Regular medical checkups can help to identify any early signs of cervical cancer.

  • Using condoms during sexual activity.

Using condoms during sexual activity can help to reduce the risk of HPV infection by preventing the transmission of the virus. It also protects you from other sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Quit smoking

Tobacco use is linked to many types of cancer, including cervical cancer. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk.

  • Limit your number of sexual partners

The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk of exposure to HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

In Malaysia, the HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females, beginning at age 9, especially in high-risk groups such as sexually active adolescent girls who are potentially engaging in high-risk sexual activities and individuals who are immunocompromised. However, the vaccine can also be given to older adolescents and young adults up to age twenty-six.

Children may need parental written consent before receiving the vaccine. Hence parental awareness is important to ensure good HPV vaccine acceptability.

How HPV vaccine is given?

The HPV vaccine is given as an injection (shot) in the upper arm or thigh. The recommended vaccination course is two doses, given six to twelve months apart for individuals aged nine through fourteen years.

For those who start the first injection at fifteen years or older, three injections are recommended, with the second dose and third dose being given two and six months after the first dose.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

The human papillomavirus vaccine is very safe. It is made from non-infectious HPV virus-like particles (VLPs) so that they can't cause infection. The HPV vaccine cannot give you cancer. Many people worry about getting cancer from the HPV vaccine because it contains virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs are not live viruses, so they cannot infect you with HPV. The HPV vaccine has been studied in large clinical trials and has been found to be safe and effective.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Most people who get HPV immunization have no side effects. The most common side effects are pain and redness at the injection site. More serious adverse effects are rare and may include:

Allergic reactions (hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing)

Guillain-Barré syndrome (a rare neurological condition that causes muscle weakness and paralysis)

Pregnant women should not receive the HPV vaccine. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before you get the vaccine.

You should not receive the HPV vaccine if you have had a previous allergic reaction to it.

What HPV vaccines are available in Malaysia?

There are three types of HPV vaccines available in Malaysia:

Cervarix - Cervarix protects against two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

Gardasil 9 -Gardasil 9 protects against nine types of HPV, including the types that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

Gardasil - Gardasil is a quadrivalent HPV vaccine that protects against 4 types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts.

The vaccination schedule and number of doses for all 3 vaccines depend on the age of the recipient. The HPV vaccine is most effective if it is given before you are exposed to HPV.

How much does the HPV vaccination cost in Malaysia?

As of January 2022, the HPV vaccination cost in Malaysia ranges from RM300 to RM1200 or more, depending on which type of vaccine is chosen and where it is administered. The HPV vaccine is not currently covered under Malaysia's National Immunization Programme, but for Malaysian women who cannot afford the HPV vaccine, financial assistance is available through the national HPV vaccination program by the Ministry of Health Malaysia. This program covers the cost of the HPV vaccine for eligible women.

What to do if you think you've been infected with HPV?

If you think you've been infected with human papillomavirus, it's important to see a doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can test for the virus and, if necessary, provide treatment.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to care for yourself.

Make sure to practice good hygiene. This means washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, and keeping any cuts or grazes clean and covered. You should also avoid sharing personal items like towels or razor blades.

Try to reduce stress levels. Stress can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection.

Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. This will help to boost your immune system and give your body the energy it needs to fight off the virus.

How and where to get the HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine is a safe and an effective way to protect yourself from the virus. It is important to get the vaccine if you are age 26 or younger, for cervical cancer prevention. If you are aged 27 to 45 and have never been vaccinated, you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether the HPV vaccine is right for you.

Instead of searching for "HPV Vaccine Malaysia" countless times online, DoctorOnCall can easily help you get your HPV vaccination in just a few clicks. Book an appointment with us today!

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