The human papillomavirus or HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus and is a common cause of cervical cancer and genital warts. According to a study conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of the virus in girls between the ages of 14 and 19 dropped 56 percent down to 5.1 percent of that population, yet only 32 percent of teenage girls between 13 and 17 years of age received the recommended three doses of the vaccine in 2010. Forty-nine percent of girls have only received one dose.The findings of the study show that even receiving one or two doses of the three-dose vaccine regimen can be effective in protecting girls from HPV. It also shows that the vaccine is working and should be used more widely.
HPV infects about 14 million people each year according to the CDC, and it has been estimated that approximately 79 million people are infected with the virus in the United States. Although the virus is usually eliminated from the body after about two years, it can cause serious health problems. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and it has also been linked to head and neck cancers. It is also frequently the cause of genital warts. The CDC states that their goal is to have at least 80 percent of teenage girls be vaccinated against HPV, but that may be an uphill battle. As of 2011, 53 percent of teenage girls had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 44 percent of parents said that they had no intention of giving the vaccine to their daughters in 2010. The reasons given were due to health concerns and the fact that their children were not sexually active.
Young women in their teens and early 20s are the most susceptible to HPV, and it is recommended that girls be vaccinated early around the ages of 11 or 12. Most girls aren’t sexually active at this age, but the vaccination is said to be the most effective when it is administered before girls become sexually active. Sadly, many parents seem to be against this necessary precaution against a potentially dangerous virus, and doctors aren’t doing enough to educate them. Many health experts believe that this vaccine should be essential for young women, and research clearly shows that it works. Parents of teenage girls should pay close attention to these findings and realize that there is nothing to fear from the HPV vaccine.
Only just 2 years ago, the CDC recommended that teenage boys, like their female counterparts, be vaccinated against HPV. The same virus that affects girls and women causing vulvar and cervical cancer, can also cause penile and anal cancers and warts in boys and men. In addition to these cancers, HPV is also known to cause oral cancers including throat cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents cancer; we strongly suggest you speak with your health care providers about vaccinating your pre-teen and young adult children against this potentially deadly disease. Waiting until you discover that your children are sexually active may be too late. Currently, there is no HPV test recommended for males that can detect presence of the virus.
See the HPV CDC fact sheet for more information: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/default.htm
Copyright 2013 James Stanfield Company. All Rights Reserved.
Tavernise, Sabrina . “HPV Vaccine Is Credited in Fall of Teenagers’ Infection Rate.” New York Times. 06 JUN 2013: Web. 26 Jun. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/health/study-finds-sharp-drop-in-hpv-infections-in-girls.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0>.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.