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by Michele Shackelford, staff writer

The symptoms of HPV are usually not obvious, so most people are unaware they have contracted the virus. Antibiotics can control HPV, but most people do not require treatment because the body’s immune system is able to control the virus. The easiest way to know if you have HPV is ask your doctor to administer a test.

Most cases of HPV are harmless, but some lead to cervical cancer. This is the main concern for young women, because 14,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The American Cancer Society (ACS) has estimated that more than 9,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2006.

HPV is the main risk factor for developing cervical cancer (health.ivillage.com). HPV infects the cells of the cervix and slowly causes cellular changes (dysphasia) that can result in cancer. Women are more likely to contract HPV from puberty to their 30s, but the disease can take up to 20 years to develop into cancer (nccc-online.org).

Cervical cancer kills approximately 200,000 in developing countries every year. It is the third most common cancer overall, and the leading cause of death in women in developing countries. The number one way to decrease risks is, to make women more aware of the effects of HPV, and motivate them to seek immunization (nccc-online.org).

Gardasil is the new vaccine made by Merck & Co. and has been approved by the FDA to prevent cervical cancer in females. This is the first vaccine released for HPV, but it is not a cure. This vaccine does not substitue for your routine cervical cancer screening. Gardasil protects against four types of HPV, including the two types that are most often cause cervical cancer. It does not protect you against HPV you may already have.The vaccine is given as a three dose series over a six month period. Gardasil is not a “STD vaccine,” it simply protects against certain types of HPV, but not other STDs (pediatrics.about.com)

HPV Research Study

The Cancer Center of Hawai‘i is conducting HPV research studies open to HPU students 18-years-old and older. The purpose of these studies is to examine factors that influence HPV infections and the risk of developing cervical cancer in women, to learn more about the natural history of HPV in men, and to evaluate transmission between male and female partners.

Study visits are scheduled every two to four months. All participants receive HPV testing at no cost. Females receive free Pap smears. Compensation of $40 to $50 is provided at each visit for time and transportation costs. Additional information can also be obtained from out Web site at www.hawaii.edu/hpv.



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