Cervical cancer is even more common in women whose immunity or body defense system has been compromised as happens in HIV. This, however, does not mean that those who are HIV negative are not prone to catching the cancer. A compromised immunity also occurs for people taking certain medications called corticosteroids over an extended time, those on treatment for other cancers and those who have had organ transplantation.
There are, however, vaccines against this virus. The first is called cervarix and the second, gardasil. Cervarix is licensed for use in females for the prevention of cervical cancer and other precancerous lesions caused by HPV 16 and 18 as per British national Formulary (BNF) 2009.
Gardasil, on the other hand, is licensed for the prevention of cervical cancer, genital warts and pre-cancerous lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
The two vaccines are not interchangeable and one vaccine product should be used for the whole course. Interchanging may happen if one has had a previous incomplete vaccination with gardasil and they are still eligible for HPV vaccination, then they can be given Cervarix to complete the course. Cervarix it is said, does not protect against genital warts.
The HPV vaccine is most effective if given before one becomes sexually active and the first dose is recommended for females aged 12 and 13 years. The second and third doses are given one to two months and six months after the first dose.
All doses should be given within a 12 month period. If the course is interrupted, it should be resumed not repeated with appropriate dosing between the remaining doses. Protection is estimated at more than six years from when the person took the primary dose. The vaccine is given as an injection into the arm.