Is the HPV vaccine safe for young people with lupus?
The vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV) is safe for girls and boys with lupus, because the virus it contains has been inactivated in a lab and therefore cannot cause infection. This is true even among people with lupus whose immune systems may be weakened.
If a girl’s lupus is very active or if she is on immunosuppressive therapy such as corticosteroids, the body may not produce a vigorous enough immune response to HPV vaccine injections. This could make the vaccine less effective, though no less safe. For that reason, it is best whenever possible to give the HPV vaccine while a person with lupus is taking low doses of corticosteroids.
Females with lupus, and others who are immunosuppressed, have a harder time getting rid of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease and the primary cause of cervical cancer. This increases their risk of abnormal Pap smears, and eventually, their risk of developing cervical cancer. However a research study has found that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective for most people with autoimmune diseases.
HPV vaccine has been recommended for boys as well as girls Although male cancers related to HPV infection are less common than female cancers, the vaccine protects against four kinds of HPV that can still help prevent genital and oral cancer in males. Also, because males who may not know they have HPV can pass the disease on to future sexual partners, vaccinating males helps improve cancer prevention in others.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration approved the HPV vaccine Gardasil® in 2006 for girls and women ages 9-26 and for boys and men in the same age range. The age of 11 or 12 has been recommended for giving the HPV vaccine because it is usually before a young person becomes sexually active. The body’s immune system can more effectively fight off exposure to HPV if the vaccine has been given before any exposure to the virus which is transmitted through sexual contact.