Hopefully, you already know about HPV, the skin-to-skin sexually transmitted virus with over 40 distinct subtypes, some of which can cause oral, anal or cervical cancer or genital warts.
I hope you also already know all about the HPV vaccine called Gardasil, which was FDA approved back in 2006. If not, check out this comprehensive article about human papillomavirus called ‘What is HPV?‘ for general information and ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. And, be sure to read our other important articles about HPV:
- ‘The Facts: Oral and Anal HPV‘
- ‘Too Old for the HPV Vaccine?‘
- ‘Is the HPV Vaccine Ineffective for Black Women?‘
If you’re already well-versed in the virus and the Gardasil vaccine– you’ll be pleased to learn that the original vaccine formula has been vastly improved upon. The next generation of HPV prevention is known as the V503 vaccine. Just like Gardasil, it’s made by Merck. But, unlike Gardasil, the V503 shot protects against 9 strains of HPV, as opposed to Gardasil’s comparatively measly protection against just four strains (none of which are prevalent in black women).
Theoretically, for our nation’s youth, the new and improved V503 could completely change the face of cervical cancer. Why? Because clinical trials indicate an almost unreal drop in cervical lesion rates– an 85-97% reduction by test subjects who were vaccinated by V503. With protection from HPV subtypes 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58– the estimated worldwide efficacy could reduce cervical cancer by 90%.
But, don’t run off to the clinic for your V503 vaccine just yet. Merck’s new wonder vaccine is till in phase three of its testing and has not yet been FDA approved. And, the speculative worldwide impact relies greatly on this approval and on the willingness of parents and young patients to get the vaccine. Gardasil’s 2013 numbers have been surprisingly low, with only 57% of girls and 35% of boys receiving one or more of the three required doses in the United States.
Best case scenario, once approved, this Gardasil successor will quickly take off with the general public. Because, let’s face it– winning the war against cervical cancer is up to us. The more people who are aware of the virus and the vaccine, the more likely it is for cervical cancer rates to drop, so help spread the word to those you know. And, of course correctly and regularly using condoms and dental dams, in addition to regular STD testing and being vaccinated against HPV, is absolutely the best way to stay protected.
Currently, the only other pharmaceutical competition for the original Gardasil is from the HPV vaccine Cervarix made by GlaxoSmithKline, which only protect against two strains of the virus (16 and 18). However, the upside to Cervarix is its ease of application– as it only requires a single dosage, versus the three shot series required from Merck’s HPV vaccines. This makes Cervarix a stronger contender for the treatment of females ages 9-25 who are living in third world nations.