HPV is the most common STI, and 9 of every 10 people will have an infection at some point in their lives (1). This virus can cause cancers in the cervix, penis, mouth, and oropharynx (2), and it also causes genital warts (3). Even though a vaccine exists against HPV, less than half of teens are up to date on all of their doses of these shots (2).
Part of the reason behind these low vaccination rates are due to parents concerns regarding vaccine safety and fear that vaccination will encourage sexual activity (4). Though all vaccines, including this one, have potential side effects, the HPV vaccine is considered safe (4). Additionally, studies have shown that the HPV vaccine does not make teens more likely to start having sex (4).
The way providers approach talking about the HPV has also influenced vaccine rates, and strong provider endorsement seems to improve vaccinations (5). On Monday, March 19, Chris Noronha spoke with the Interdisciplinary Health Communications Class about the work he is doing with Noel Brewer on provider communication regarding the HPV vaccine. They have found that when providers mention the HPV vaccine in the same list as other vaccines that are due at age 11, vaccination rates increase.
If you’re interested in the HPV vaccine, it may not be too late. You can receive the series through age 26 (1). Contact your provider if you’re interested.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] January 30, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv-vaccine.html.
- Aubrey, Allison. This Vaccine Can Prevent Cancer, But Many Teenagers Still Don’t Get It. National Public Radio. [Online] February 19, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/19/586494027/this-vaccine-can-prevent-cancer-but-many-teenagers-still-dont-get-it.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is HPV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] December 20, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html.
- —. Talking to Parents About HPV vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] December 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/hcp/for-hcp-tipsheet-hpv.pdf.
- Narula, Tara. HPV vaccine: Why aren’t children getting it? CBS News. [Online] July 23, 2017. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hpv-vaccination-cancer-prevention-dr-tara-narula/.