Human papillomavirus, or HPV, disease is incredibly common. Researchers believe that over half of sexually active adults have been infected with HPV at any given time. Not all of those infections would be the same. There are more than 100 kinds of HPV, many of which can be spread sexually. Some kinds of HPV are regarded as high-risk. These strains are associated with an increased risk of many different cancers in both men and women.
Additional types are regarded as low-risk. These strains are associated with genital warts.
Because HPV is spread from skin-to-skin, condoms aren’t completely protective against disease. That is the reason why it was so exciting for most people when the first HPV vaccine was designed. This vaccine, Gardasil, shielded against the two most popular high-risk and the two most popular low-risk types of HPV. A couple of years later, a different vaccine, Cervarix, was released that focused on the high risk strain. These days, there are just three HPV vaccines. The next vaccine is a new version of Gardasil known as Gardasil-9 that shields against 9 strains of HPV.
The vaccines are not perfect. But, countries that have experienced good vaccine uptake have seen their cervical cancer numbers fall. Why not more American adolescents receive an HPV vaccine?
The Advantages of the HPV Vaccine From The Numbers
In countries, such as Australia, in which several young women are awarded the 4-strain HPV vaccine (Gardasil) until they may be exposed to this virus, the effects have been phenomenal.
A 2016 study review of the literature found that there were:
- 90 percent fewer infections with HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18. These are the four strains protected from Gardasil.
- 90 percent fewer cases of genital warts.
- 45 percent fewer diagnoses of adrenal cervical changes.
- 85 percent fewer diagnoses of high-grade cervical changes. These are the types of changes connected with the development of cancer.
But for these benefits to be viewed, young individuals have to get the HPV vaccine. More to the point, they have to get the vaccine till they start having sex.
Some nations are doing amazingly well at getting people vaccinated. In 2014, almost three quarters of Australian girls had been vaccinated. Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have vaccination coverage in the assortment of 80-90 percent. By comparison, by 2014, only 40 percent of American women and 22% of American boys were vaccinated.
What’s America Behind in HPV Vaccination Rates?
The HPV vaccine came into the United States quite ancient. Nonetheless, in its first years there were a lot of debates about whether it should be a part of standard vaccination recommendations. Individuals were concerned about safety. It’s since been shown to be a very safe vaccine. They were also concerned that the HPV vaccine could invite young people to have more sex. That’s another thing that’s been shown to not be authentic.
Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine HPV vaccination for females and males ages 11 and 12. So why do vaccine rates fall behind those of several other developed nations?
There are a number of explanations. In no Specific order:
- Doctors don’t do a good job of consistently recommending the vaccine to adolescent patients and their parents.
- Parents aren’t aware that the vaccine is needed for young women and men. Therefore, they don’t know to request it about it.
- When parents are aware of it, many do not think HPV vaccination is as important as other youth and adolescent vaccinations. This is particularly concerning alongside the overall decrease in youth vaccination that is being seen all around the United States. Decreasing use of vaccines is largely attributable to parents’ fears about vaccination. These fears are not based in sciencefiction. They also don’t comprehend that vaccines are many orders of magnitude safer than the diseases they’re designed to prevent.
- Parents are concerned about the price of the vaccine. They are also worried the cost of these visits necessary to find the vaccine. There is some evidence that Medicaid recipients receive the vaccine more frequently than those on private insurance. This may be for several reasons. One of those reasons is reduced cost of seeking care when you don’t have to cover visit co-pays.
- HPV vaccines are not always available in all areas of the United States. Availability varies a lot depending on where people get care.
There are ways to fix these problems. Educational programs can help educate doctors about the value of routine vaccination. That way, doctors could find out more about both the vaccine and the best way to talk about it in appropriate ways. HPV vaccines can be made part of standard prevention applications. This could make discussing them easier for physicians and parents alike. Electronic medical records can be improved and access to this vaccine could be expanded. That would help doctors identify individuals who need the vaccine. It might also mean that parents and teens would have more options for where to get their shots.
Finally, parents and teens need to have access to much better information about the HPV vaccine. If more people understood the benefits to both boys and girls, they’d likely be interested in receiving it. Most importantly, they will need to know that getting the HPV vaccine is not about having sex. It is about safeguarding health.