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Cervarix

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Updated January 23, 2010

Cervarix Basics:

Like Gardasil, Cervarix is a human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine that can protect women against cervical cancer that is caused by certain types of HPV infections.

What Cervarix Is Used For:

Cervarix provides protection against infection with HPV subtypes 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. It may also provide protection against other strains of HPV, including types 45 and 31, which can also cause cervical cancer.

Cervarix Facts:

Cervarix is a bivalent HPV vaccine that is made by GlaxoSmithKline. Other facts about Cervarix include that:

  • Cervarix was approved by the FDA in October 2009 and is given as a three dose series over 6 months.
  • it includes an adjuvant (a helper chemical) that 'may' allow it to have longer protection than Gardasil.
  • long-term studies have shown that protection from Cervarix last at least 4.5 years.

HPV Facts:

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts, abnormal Pap tests, and cervical cancer.

  • About 20 million people are infected with HPV in the United States and almost 3,700 women die of cervical cancer in the US each year.
  • Since many people have no symptoms and do not even know that they are infected with HPV, they can unknowingly pass their HPV infection to their sexual partners.
  • There is no cure for HPV infections.

Who Should Get Cervarix:

Since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, it is important that an HPV vaccine be given before people become sexually active. In fact, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that Gardasil and Cervarix be routinely given to girls when they are 11 or 12 years of age. Gardasil can be started as early as age 9 though, and can also be given to women 13 to 26 years old. Cervarix is approved to given to females between the ages of 10 and 25 years old.

HPV Vaccine Controversy:

Cervarix will likely generate the same controversy as Gardasil, because some parents will have problems thinking about giving a vaccine against a STD to pre-teens. Other parents might not want a vaccine against a STD at all, believing that their children could not be at risk. And still others think that the HPV vaccines might encourage promiscuity, since it could foster the belief that it protects against STDs.

Cervarix Side Effects:

The most common side effects after getting the Cervarix vaccine include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. Other side effects can include fatigue, headache, joint and muscle aching, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Sources:

Harper DM , Franco EL, Wheeler C, Ferris DG, et al. Efficacy of a bivalent L1 virus-like particle vaccine in prevention of infection with human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 in young women: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2004;364:1757-65.

Giannini SL et al. Enhanced humoral and memory B cellular immunity using HPV16/18 L1 VLP vaccine formulated with the MPL/aluminium salt combination (AS04) compared to aluminium salt only. Vaccine 2006

Cervarix--a bivalent L1 virus-like particle vaccine for prevention of human papillomavirus type 16- and 18-associated cervical cancer. Crosbie EJ - Expert Opin Biol Ther - 01-MAR-2007; 7(3): 391-6.

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