What is HPV?
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is a virus that’s responsible for many diseases. There are more than 100 types of HPV.
What can HPV infection cause?
HPV-related diseases include: the common wart, genital and anal warts, cervical cancer and pre-cancers, anal cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer.
How is HPV transmitted?
HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. HPV can be transmitted from one person to another through skin to skin genital contact. 1 out of 2 sexually-active adults would have been infected once in their lifetime.
Types of HPV
HPV types are generally grouped into low-risk (wart-causing) and high-risk (cancer-causing) types.
Low-risk types include 6, 11, 40, 42, 43, 44, and 54. HPV types 6 and 11 account for 90% of genital warts.
High-risk types include 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. These 7 high-risk HPV types account for 90% of cervical cancers.
Prevention of HPV infection
Any sexually-active person is at risk of HPV infection. Using condoms can reduce the risk of HPV transmission, but it is not 100%. Being faithful to your partner is important to reduce you and your partner’s risk of transmitting HPV.
HPV vaccination is an effective way to prevent HPV infection. At Mutual Healthcare, we provide 2 kinds of HPV vaccination: C-2 (2 strains) and G-9 (9 strains).
Treatment of HPV infection
The virus itself cannot be treated. In 90% of the cases, the virus goes away on its own without treatment. In some cases, HPV persists and can lead to warts, pre-cancerous lesions, or cancer. Cervical cancer can be detected by regular Pap smears. If there are warts or cancer, they will require specific treatment.
C-2 protects against the oncogenic types 16 and 18. C-2 is indicated for females between 9 to 25 years old inclusive. 3 doses are required at 0, 1, and 6 months. The complete C-2 package is priced at $408 before GST. Individual doses are charged at $160.
G-9 protects against the oncogenic types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. It also covers against the low-risk type 6 and 11. G-9 is indicated for females between 9 to 26 years old inclusive. It is also indicated for males between 9 to 26 years old inclusive for protection against genital warts and anal cancer. 3 doses are required at 0, 2, and 6 months. The complete G-9 package is priced at $660 before GST. Individual doses are charged at $250.
Side effects of the vaccines
The two vaccines have been approved as safe and effective. Common side effects include local pain, swelling, redness, itch at the injection site, and fever. The vaccines consists neither the viruses or any infectious material. This means that you cannot get HPV infection from the vaccines.
Are the vaccines 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer?
HPV vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target when given before initial exposure to the virus – which means before individuals begin to engage in sexual activity. When an individual has been exposed to a particular HPV type before, the vaccine does not work for that type, but is still able to provide coverage against the other types.
No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing infections. This is true for HPV vaccines as well. About 10-30% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV types that are not covered by the HPV vaccines. HPV vaccination is not a substitute for regular Pap smear.
Can Medisave be used to pay for HPV vaccinations?
Currently, you can use up to $400 per Medisave account to pay for C-2 vaccinations. If you have 2 Medisave account payers, you can use up to $800 entirely through Medisave. MOH is still reviewing the use of Medisave for G-9 vaccinations. To be eligible for Medisave use, you have to be a female of age between 9 to 26 years old inclusive.
I am above 26 years old, can I go for HPV vaccination?
The efficacy of HPV vaccination is reduced outside the recommended age for 2 reasons. An older person may already have been exposed to some HPV types and the vaccination will not work for those types. An older person may also have reduced immune response to the vaccine compared to a younger person. Because of these reasons, the decision to go for HPV vaccination after 26 years old is an individual choice, and you should discuss it with a doctor if you wish to be vaccinated. There is no increased risks of side effects or harm if an older person chooses to go for HPV vaccination.
Do you have any further questions? Are you keen to get vaccinated?
Please make an appointment and discuss with our doctors in person. We hope to give you the advice most suited to yourself.