CNN's medical new correspondent Elizabeth Cohen breaks it down. HPV (genital human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. According to the CDC, roughly 20 million Americans have the virus. The major reason to be concerned about HPV is that it is the major cause of cervical cancer, which kills about 250,000 women worldwide each year. Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, protects against four strains of HPV, including two connected to most cervical cancer.
In 2006, the FDA has approved the vaccine for use in girls ages 9 to 26. Doctors suggest the vaccine be given to young girls, preferably before they have sex -- a prescription that has not been without some controversy.
Many women have questioned whether if they get the get the vaccine if they still need to get regular Pap smears. As Gardasil only covers the strains that cause 70% of cervical cancer, there's still that remaining 30% so Pap smears are still vitally important.
As for boys and young men getting the vaccine, Cohen says testing is still underway, but the results are promising. The hope is that by vaccinating men, they won't be able to pass on the virus to women, even further reducing the risk.
What do you think about Gardasil?