LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - HPV-related cancers can affect thousands of Americans per year, so the American Cancer Society is actively working to change that.
Part of the plan focuses on increasing Kentucky’s vaccination rates. A host of physicians, community members, researchers and survivors gathered at the Norton Healthcare Learning Center on Thursday to discuss possible strategies to target the issue in Louisville.
Human Papillomavirus is common, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimating about 79 million people are currently infected with HPV in the United States. It’s not spread through blood or body fluids, according to ACS, but rather sexual contact.
An infected person doesn’t always have visible signs or symptoms and in most people the body clears the infection on its own. But other times the infection doesn’t go away, which presents a more severe risk. Long-lasting infection can lead to cancer over time, especially when it’s caused by certain high-risk HPV types, according to ACS.
Experts recommend children be vaccinated at a young age before being exposed to the virus.
“Our goal is to vaccinate more 11 and 12-year-olds,” Ellen Schroeder with the American Cancer Society said. “Currently our rates are in the 40s and when you look at other vaccinations that kids this age normally get, the TDAP and the Meningococcal, for example, those rates of vaccination are up in the 80 percent range.”
Schroeder added safety seems to be a concern among those not vaccinated, but 270 million people have received the vaccine worldwide with few adverse reactions.
“That’s an education process,” Schroeder explained. “To teach parents, providers and basically children, too, that they don’t have to worry about the safety of the vaccine.”
More resources from the American Cancer Society can be found here.
The HPV vaccination is expected to prevent 90 percent of the six HPV-related cancers when given before the child is exposed to the virus.