Dr. Thomas Krivak Tells KDKA Radio Why The HPV Vaccination Is Important

"Any patient that has had sexual relations has probably been exposed to HPV"

HPV Vaccine

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - KDKA Radio’s Marty Griffin announced earlier this week that he has been diagnosed with cancer relating to human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Dr. Thomas Krivak, Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology for the AHN Women and Children Institute and the AHN Cancer Institute, joined KDKA Radio on Wednesday to talk about HPV and why it is important to be vaccinated.

What is HPV?

“It’s a virus that can get into your DNA. What cancer really is, is just abnormal cells, generally more rapidly dividing than your normal cells,” Krivak said.

“Multifactorial, Environmental, and gluten have all been related to cancer, and can trigger DNA to form abnormal. So can a virus.”

Who is affected by HPV?

“I treat women, and I would have to say that I tell patients that cervical displeasure, or pre-cancer, affects roughly between two and half and three million women per year, in the United States. The majority of that is due to HPV,” Krivak tells KDKA Radio. 

“Any patient that has had sexual relations has probably been exposed to HPV. Some people clear the virus and become immune to it, some people don't.” 

Why do certain strains cause cancer?

“There's many different strains of HPV. Some of the strains of the virus lead to cancer, and some of them will lead to genital wart formation, or something like that. Not all of them will do that,” Krivak added.

“It has many reasons with the virility of how it’s going to affect the DNA. We have our DNA, where these viral particles insert their DNA. If it’s inserted close to an important gene that helps regulate prevention of cancer in a person, that person probably has a higher likelihood of developing cancer.”

Who should have the vaccine?

“Young girls, 12-16 and young boys, 12-16,” Krivak tells listeners.

“You really want to have it prior to any type of exposure to intercourse. Vaccines can be looked at as preventive, and they can be looked at as therapeutic. HPV right now is a preventive vaccine.”

What do you say to people who express concerns for vaccines causing other issues, even autism?

“It’s a very controversial area. There’s definitely two schools of thought; one is don’t vaccinate anybody, and the other is that there are too many vaccines. I think that everybody has to feel comfortable with the decision that they make,” said Krivak.

“What I can say is that both of my kids were vaccinated and I am a firm believer in that. For overall health, vaccines are very important, there is no doubt about that.”

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