Everything You Need to Know About HPV Vaccination in Malaysia

Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a group of viruses commonly related to sexually transmitted infections. Most infections usually disappear on their own, however, some types of HPV can cause serious conditions like genital warts or cancer.

Both men and women who participate in unprotected sex are at risk of contracting HPV and HPV-related illnesses regardless of age. While HPV is usually a sexually transmitted infection, it is still possible to get infected if one’s mouth, throat, or areas surrounding the genitalia come into contact with the virus.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Any sexually active individual can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected. Cervical cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after the individual gets HPV.

In Malaysia, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Malaysian women between 15 and 44 years old despite it being a preventable disease.

Most cervical cancer results from HPV infections. There are certain types or strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is concerning because it does not show any distinct symptoms during its early stages.

Cervical cancer happens when the cells lining the cervix behave abnormally. Made up of two parts, the cervix is lined with two kinds of cells—glandular and squamous cells—and the area in which these cells meet is called the transformation zone. Examining the transformation zone and the behaviour of the cells in this area with different cervical cancer screening such as Pap test and HPV test is critical in determining whether a woman has, or is at risk for, cervical cancer.

Apart from cervical cancer, HPV has also been linked to cancers of the anus, vulva, penis, and oropharynx, the part of our mouths that includes the back of the tongue, tonsils, side and back walls of the throat, and soft palate.

How does the HPV Vaccine Work?

HPV vaccination works extremely well. HPV vaccine has the potential to prevent more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV.

The Human Papillomavirus vaccines work the same way other vaccines do. It stimulates the body’s immune system to develop antibodies to fight against HPV. In doing so, our body can recognise HPV and fight it before it has a chance to attack healthy cells. As vaccines closely mimic HPV, the body can create an immunity towards the actual virus.

HPV vaccines nowadays use virus-like particles constructed using surface components of HPV. Though the vaccines introduce HPV-like particles to our bodies, one does not contract the disease nor can infect others with HPV by means of getting an HPV vaccine because the vaccine does not contain the virus’ DNA. The vaccine is highly immunogenic, meaning it can trigger a high amount of antibody production, making it highly effective in fighting off the virus.

While the HPV vaccine is effective in preventing the virus from infecting cells, it is not capable of treating existing HPV infections or complications caused by HPV. It also does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.

There are currently three HPV vaccines approved for use in the National HPV Vaccination Program of Malaysia — the bivalent HPV vaccine, quadrivalent HPV vaccine, and 9-valent HPV vaccine.

All three HPV vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers. The 9-valent HPV vaccine protects against five additional HPV types that cause another 20 per cent of cervical cancers, for example, HPV types 52 and 58 which are among the most common HPV types seen in Malaysian women.

Get your HPV Vaccine at Pantai Hospital

Get in touch with us today to book a consultation with a gynaecologist regarding Human Papillomavirus vaccination and the doses of HPV vaccine you need.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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