MOUNTAIN TOP, Pa. -- We're talking about HPV in the Healthwatch 16 report. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted disease. But there's a vaccination that can prevent it, and a number of cancers to which it's linked.
Dr. Alexies Samonte, a pediatrician at Geisinger in Mountain Top, wants people to start talking about HPV, or human papillomavirus.
"HPV is very common. About four of five people will be affected with HPV in their lifetime," Dr. Samonte said.
She says HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that, in many cases, goes away on its own, with no signs or symptoms. But if it doesn't, the virus can be connected to a number of cancers, including cervical, anal, penile, and throat cancers.
There is no treatment but there is a vaccine and Dr. Samonte recommends her patients, both boys and girls, get the vaccine before the age 13.
"HPV vaccine is not just to prevent genital warts. It is actually cancer prevention."
Dr. Samonte says she is administering the vaccine more than ever before and points out her own son got it when he was the right age. At Geisinger, it's a two-dose series six to 12 months apart.
She understands that parents may have concerns but urges them to talk to their own pediatricians if they have questions.
Experts say many health insurers cover the cost of the HPV vaccine if you're interested in it for your child.