Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Immunizations

Human papillomaviruses, known as HPV, is a designation for a cluster of viruses that affect the human skin and the moist membranes, which cover the organs of the body. Mostly, the virus damages the linings of the throat and the mouth, and also female genitals, including the vulva, cervix, and vagina. The scientists know more than 100 kinds of HPV every of which has a number. Out of 100 types, about 30 affect the reproductive organs (ECDC, n.d.). Those types of virus that attack the cover of the throat and mouth are considered as high-risk papillomaviruses. They lead to the cell changes, in other words, dysplasia. In addition, the modified cells have the predisposition to become cancerous. The second group of the viruses called low-risk HPVs causes verrucas and warts that mainly grow on the feet and hands. Surprisingly, but human papillomaviruses are very common.

Almost every individual may have low-risk HPV during the life. Furthermore, it does not even develop any symptoms or side effects and mostly passes imperceptibly. However, young people are more susceptible to the virus as with age people tend to develop immunity to the infection (Gabey & Cafasso). Therefore, disease prevalence figures, epidemiology, and incidence in Europe, Latin America, and Florida (the USA) should be thoroughly analyzed.

According to eighteen studies conducted in fourteen Western and Northern European countries, high-risk HPVs prevalence reaches its highest point before 25-30 years but after that age, steadily declines (Vuyst). For women aged between 30 and 64, the prevalence varies from 2 percent in Spain to around 12 percent in France and Belgium where sustained high levels occurred among women at the age of 35 and more. HPV 16 and 18 that cause the cervical cancer account for 30 and 12 percent of all high-risk HPV positives respectively (Vuyst). Concerning the USA, the country shows a high prevalence of HPV in the Southern States, including Florida. There, it reaches the highest point making up to 10 percent while it is only 2-3 percent in the other states. In comparison to Europe and Florida, Latin America shows 16.1 percent of HPV prevalence. Low-risk types of HPV make only 0.9 percent that is considered as the lowest among these three regions (Bruni).

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As far as epidemiology focuses on the ways the virus spreads and the preventive methods, it is obvious that HPV transmits in Europe, Florida, and Latin America similarly. It passes through intimate skin contacts. For example, by having anal, oral, or vaginal sex, an individual can be infected with HPV. Basically, anyone who has sex with an infected person may acquire the virus (Gabey & Cafasso). Thus, the most efficient method to be safe is to be vaccinated with three doses every six months (ECDC, n.d.). In the United States, immunization rates are very low. Florida is in the bottom of the list. In 2021, 34.3 percent of the girls aged between 13 and 17 were immunized while the percentage of boys is only 13.2 in this state (National AHEC Organization, n.d.). In addition, according to the data of unvaccinated girls with missed opportunities, 91.1 percent of them did not get any vaccination. By 2022, the rate of vaccinated teenagers should reach 80 percent (National AHEC Organization).

In Europe, the results are relatively satisfying. The implementation of HPV vaccines has happened almost in all European countries. For instance, in 2010, Portugal and UK had immunization coverage rates of more than 80 percent while Italy and Denmark, they reached 60 percent. Latin America is not successful as Europe because the geographic scope of vaccination is partial (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). Mexico covered immunization in 2008 only for 5 percent of the population while Panama developed a national program of vaccination (CDC).

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The incidences of frequency with which a disease occurs in Europe show that 8 out of 10 women have HPV during their lifetime. As far as HPV causes genital warts, it is estimated that each year there are from 720000 to 790000 new cases of their occurrence in both men and women. In addition, 55000 cases of different types of cancer-related to HPV are in the European countries (Sanofi Pasteur MSD). The assessment of the HPV incidences and HPV-associated cancers was made in Florida before vaccination during 2010-2011 (Huang & Hylton). Throughout this period, 18186 people were diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by HPV. According to the estimations in 2018, 45008 cases of HPV-associated cancer occurred in Latin America (ICO HPV Information Centre). In 2019, this number increased to 530000. In addition, 275000 cases were fatal (Sepúlveda-Arias & Álvarez-Aldana).

HPV is a group of viruses divided into high-risk and low-risk types. After having analyzed the information, the highest HPV prevalence was in Latin America while Europe has the lowest rate. Although the virus is also widespread in Florida, the number of cases is decreasing due to the vaccination. Despite the fact that immunization is highly developed in Europe, the incidence of HPV-associated cancer is still high. The main reason for analyzing this topic is in the fact that it is interesting to learn more about human papillomavirus and the ways it can be prevented. Furthermore, my work is related to the sphere of immunizations. It also influenced the choice of the subject. The topic should be examined, especially by those who want to make people, in particular, families, aware of the HPV, its types, and the consequences it may cause. It is vital to know how it is transmitted and why vaccination is important. The fact that people become knowledgeable about the virus gives hope and an opportunity to help them.

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