HPV Prevention, Vaccination & Screening in Singapore
What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?
HPV refers to a group of more than 100 viruses, of which around 13 types lead to cervical cancer as well as vulva and vagina cancer in women. For men, HPV infection has been associated with genital warts, anal cancer and even throat cancer due to oral sex. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact and even through the exchange of body fluids, such as the sharing of contaminated items e.g sex toys.
What are the signs and symptoms of HPV?
HPV infections do not usually have any signs or symptoms and are usually picked up on screening through a Pap Smear.
Some HPV infections though may cause genital warts.
How can you protect yourself with the HPV vaccine in Singapore?
In Singapore, MOH recommends a course of 2 doses for children from age 9 as it has been shown to be very effective when given prior to any sexual contact and at an early age. If given after age 15, a third dose is required. It is also recommended for all sexually active women up to age 26, though it has been shown to be beneficial too for both men and women age 27-45.
Screening is also recommended every 3 years starting at age 25 through a Pap smear for all sexually active women, even if the tests are negative. Likewise, at age 30 and above, screen also for HPV every 5 years, even if negative. If positive, please seek advice of your doctor to see if closer monitoring or further tests are required.
Are vaccines safe and effective?
HPV vaccines have been in use for more than 15 years and Clinical trials and have been shown to be both safe and effective in preventing infections with selected HPV subtypes. As the vaccines do not contain any live viruses or infectious material, you cannot become infected through vaccination.
A research published recently in the reputable medical journal Lancet showed that the incidence of cervical cancer in England has fallen by almost 90% since the vaccine was first introduced in 2008.