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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Declining Rates of HPV in Teen Girls

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

Rates of HPV have dropped by 50% in recent years for teen girls (3.6% among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2% in 2006 for the same age group).Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is primarily sexually transmitted.

While the decline is certainly great news, the fact remains that only about 1/3 of teenage girls in the United States have been vaccinated with the full course of the vaccine, whereas countries like Denmark and Britain are seeing vaccination rates at 80% or better. American parents seem to be the main factor behind low vaccination rates. Some parents feel that vaccinating their daughters or sons may send a message that they condone teen sexual activity. While some parents may feel very strongly about this point, it's important to know that HPV vaccination does not cause an increase in teen sexual activity, just as the presence of fire hydrants does not cause an increased desire for people to set fires.

How does the public benefit from the HPV vaccine?

There are about 15,000 HPV-associated cancers in women in the United States that may be prevented by the vaccine, including cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar (external genitalia) and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers. In addition, there are about 7,000 HPV-associated cancers in men in the United States that may be prevented by the vaccine each year. Throat (oropharyngeal) cancers in men are the most common. Earlier this year, actor Michael Douglas attributed his throat cancer to HPV.

HPV vaccination is available for boys and girls. The vaccine is most effective if delivered before young people become sexually active. The full course vaccine requires 3 injections spaced out over time.

Please see http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm for more information about the HPV vaccine.

Source:

Tavernise, S. HPV Vaccine Is Credited in Fall of Teenagers' Infection Rate (June 19, 2013). The New York Times. Retrieved on August 20, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/health/study-finds-sharp-drop-in-hpv-infections-in-girls.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&pagewanted=print



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