Human Papillomavirus – El Sol de México

By Juan Carlos Martínez Vivar

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus with genetic material of the DNA type, there are more than 100 recognized types and each of them is identified with a number.

HPVs are divided, according to their causal association with cancer, into those identified as high or low risk. There are 16 types classified as high risk, with numbers 16, 18, 45, 31, 33 and 52 causing 85% of cases of cervical cancer (CaCU); Of them, numbers 16 and 18 cause just over 70% of the cases.

HPV is the most common cause of viral infection of the reproductive system and some types present clinically as warts that can progress to CaCU and develop in the genital organs, perianal area, mouth or throat.

It is generally transmitted through direct contact of the skin, mucous membranes and secretions with an infected person. The newborn can become infected while passing through the birth canal of a woman with the presence of the virus.

To prevent it, it is first recommended to provide counseling to adolescents about sexuality and HPV infection, as well as promote the use of condoms among those who are sexually active; More specifically, the HPV vaccine is promoted and applied to candidates for it, in a timely manner.

In Mexico, bivalent (Types 16 and 18) and tetravalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) HPV vaccines are available. Both are effective in preventing infection and precancerous lesions of CaCU.

The efficacy of vaccines in women without evidence of infection prior to vaccination is between 93% and 95%, against cancer precursor lesions.

International organizations recommend focusing vaccination on women as a priority to reduce the health and social impact of CaCU.

The official vaccination schedule indicates administering a single dose to girls from 9 to 14 years of age. The vaccine should ideally be applied before the start of active sexual life, when the intervention is most effective.

For Cis or Trans women living with HIV between the ages of 11 and 49, the vaccination schedule consists of three applications: initial, two and six months after the first dose.

In 2023, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) maintained HPV vaccination in these two populations intensively; This is why you should go to the nearest Family Medicine Unit to receive the vaccination if the person included in the aforementioned groups is found.

It is important to note that the vaccine does not replace early detection actions such as Pap smears.

Coordinator of Medical Programs in the Disease Prevention and Detection Division, IMSS

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