HPV Vaccine Plight

It was last year that I was introduced to the cervical cancer which happened to be major killer among woman listed equally as dangerous as breast cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.

There was a newcomer at our church, a doctor coming to have further study in National Taiwan University Hospital. He is an expert in obstetrics and gynecology and is very eager to spread the information about the cervical cancer. At that time I led the Indonesian Catholic community here in Taipei and he informed and cordially invited our community members the talk he presented about the cervical cancer.

  • I did not remember much about the presentation itself.The introduction was opened with the statistical data of death-causing cancers, including cervical cancer.
  • I could recall seeing some horribly terrible images of the cervical cancer patients.
  • I knew that this cervical cancer was not easily detected and once someone finally realized she got cervical cancer, she could be certain that the cancer had been in stage 4 or worse and the virus itself had probably been impossible to be cured.
  • Other information I still kept in mind till now is that there is vaccine available in order to improve human immunity to the cancer, nevertheless the vaccine price here in Taiwan is more expensive than that in Indonesia.

It was not until I started preparing the wedding did I really pay more attention to the cervical cancer and HPV vaccine. Not to mention that one of my beloved aunt passed away due to this disease. In her case, she was first diagnosed with colon cancer for several years before the doctor found out that she had already had severe cervical cancer. In addition, when I did the blogwalking  to other bride-to-be blogs, I found that actually the awareness to the vaccine has grown considerably.

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It is my time to consider taking HPV vaccine. Lately, I have been doing literature research about this. I find that there were two types of HPV vaccine available commercially, Cervarix – 保蓓 – manufacture by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Gardasil – 嘉喜 – manufactured by Merck Sharp&Dohme (MSD).Here in Taiwan, Cervarix is known as 二價疫苗 because it can help to guard against two strains of HPV, while Gardasil is known as 四價疫苗to guard against four strains of HPV. For information, there are more than 200 strains of HPV known until now. Of course, since the coverage of Gardasil is wider then its price is higher than Cervarix. Oh! As though as it is not bad enough that the price here is higher than in Indonesia, I have to accept the fact that if I want more protection than I need to pay more.

To add more confusion to my plight, I recently realize that there is new commercial HPV vaccine: Gardasil9, from the same manufacturer of Gardasil. In Chinese, they call it  九價疫苗to cover nine strains of the HPV. Of course with higher price!

Here is my summary for the HPV vaccine I collect:

Cervarix Gardasil Gardasil 9
Colloquial Chinese term 二價疫苗 四價疫苗 九價疫苗
Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Merck Sharp&Dohme (MSD) Merck Sharp&Dohme (MSD)
Strain amount coverage 2 4 9
Strain type coverage 16, 18 (high risk) 6, 11 (low risk) , 16, 18 (high risk) 6, 11 (low risk) , 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58 (high risk)
Protect against Cervical cancer Anal, cervical, valvar and vaginal cancer; Anogenital warts; Vaginal, Vulvar, Cervial and Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia Anal, cervical, valvar and vaginal cancer; Anogenital warts; Vaginal, Vulvar, Cervial and Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia
Target Women 9-25 y.o Men and women 9-26 y.o Men 9-15 y.o; Women 9-26 y.o
Frequency / schedule 3 (0,1,6 month) 3 (0,2,6 month) 3 (0,2,6 month)
Price No information 3500 NTD / 1 or 10000 NTD / 3 4900 NTD / 1 or 14000 NTD / 3

This vaccine can be directly given to those who have not been involved in sexual intercourse. For those who have, pap test (pap smear) should be taken first to look for pre-cancer. Because even though vaccine is a good way to prevent those diseases, it has not been proven to treat the existing HPV infections.

Actually, the two strains which mostly cause cervical cancer are 16 and 18 (marked high risk in the table), so basically Cervarix will suffice. But, who does not want to have more protection? So, I will probably go for Gardasil9. Problem is that considering the target ages, I am now a little worried that I am a little bit too old for the vaccine!

Source:

http://www.analcancerfoundation.org/2015/08/07/immunization-awareness-month-gardasil-9/

http://www.hchealth.hk/vaccine-sub9.html

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