U.S. HPV vaccinations low; HPV-related cancers up

Posted by: Marlenia Thornton

mthornton@klkntv.com

The vaccinations for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are down while cancers related to it continue to rise.

That’s why centers like The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha are stepping in.

Nearly, 40,000 new HPV–associated cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have very few vaccines to prevent cancers and here we have one and we should be using it,” University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing-Lincoln Professor Nancy Waltman, Ph.D., said.

Walton is also a nurse practitioner

The HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer and many others.

It’s recommended for children between ages of 9 and 13.

Doctors say it’s more effective before you’re exposed to the virus, which why it’s best to get it early.

Yet, the vaccinations remain low in America.

About 42 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys finished the recommended vaccine series.

Medical professionals say there are many misconceptions surrounding the shot including that young boys don’t need it.  

"HPV vaccine will also prevent Oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer and other cancers that do affect men,” Waltman said.

She also thinks there’s some stigma around it because of its side effects like pain.

HPV is one of the most commonly sexually transmitted diseases in the nation.

About 80 percent of sexually active people will get it in their lifetime.

 It’s important to note, most infections have no symptoms and are naturally cleared, but medical experts are urging more people to get the shot.

"HPV virus is epidemic in young people and really the benefits really far outweigh the risk. People should be getting vaccinated,” Waltman said.

Research also shows nationally we’ve seen a more than 60 percent drop in 4 types of HPV among girls aged 14 and 19 which is protected by the shot.