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The Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

            The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and is related to 100% of cervical cancer cases, which was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for women. It is estimated that nearly 50% of sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their lives. Over the last 30 years, the mortality rate associated with cervical cancer has decreased significantly due to the HPV vaccines and increased use of the Pap test. This has been a remarkable public health achievement. (CDC).
             There are three different HPV vaccines currently offered. These differ slightly in the strains that they cover, but they all protect against the two viral strains that are associated with the majority of cancer cases. Gardasil 9, the most comprehensive of the three, was approved in 2014 and is an improved version of its parent vaccine. This new vaccine protects against 9 strains of HPV that are associated with 90% of genital warts cases and 90% of cervical cancers. Considering that over 12,900 new cases of cervical cancer and more than 4,100 deaths are estimated for 2015, it is shocking that more parents do not choose to vaccinate their children. .
             In 2013, only one-third of girls, aged 13-17, received all three doses of the vaccine. Awareness about the importance of this vaccine has grown significantly over the years, but the uptake has been slow. This has to do with lack of knowledge, belief that the vaccine is not necessary, and concerns about side effects. Some studies show that mothers would choose to not have their children vaccinated due to the belief that it would make girls more likely to have sex or have unprotected sex. The majority of mothers who would choose to not vaccinate their children also worry that the vaccine will cause side effects or worry about giving their children too many vaccinations (Vaccine).

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