Have you gotten the HPV vaccine?
If the answer is “No,” you're not alone.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that even though more adolescents and young adults are getting the HPV vaccine, the numbers are still lower than expected. Only 57 percent of teens ages 13-17 have received one of more of the three shot series. And boys are even worse: Only 35 percent.
The CDC was disappointed by the findings given that it’s been proven that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective in reducing one’s risk of contracting HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.
To address this issue and to commemorate National Immunization Awareness Month, Planned Parenthood is encouraging parents to allow their kids as young as 11-12 to get vaccinated. They also want for older young men and women who haven't gotten the shot yet, to reconsider.
“As a doctor, I know how important recommendations are to parents when it comes to vaccines,” said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Cullins added, “The HPV vaccine is recommended for adolescents aged 11-12 and approved for use up to age 26. Research continues to show that the HPV vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing HPV-related cancers. National Immunization Awareness Month serves as a great reminder for parents to ask their children’s doctors about the benefits, safety, and availability of the HPV vaccine.”
So how does this matter to you?
First, HPV is extremely common, and it is estimated that almost every sexually active person will contract the STD in their lifetime. Secondly, Black folks are disproportionately affected by HPV. African-American women are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer caused by the STD human papillomavirus (HPV) and 20 percent more likely to die from it compared to white women. Not to mention, a 2012 study found that HPV, which usually clears itself up in most adults, takes up to six months longer in Black women.
But there are things you can do about it.
In addition to getting vaccinated, using condoms during vaginal and anal sex can reduce your risk of contracting the STD's, too. Plus, don’t forget that young women, starting at the age of 21, need to be getting routine pap smears, which can help detect abnormal cells, and asking for an HPV test, too.
Learn more about HPV and getting the vaccine at Planned Parenthood here.
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