Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and the cause of most cervical, anal and other genital cancers. In January, officials from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) joined the nation’s top cancer institutes in a call for all children and young adults to be vaccinated against the virus.
“In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama asked the nation’s leaders to embrace cancer prevention,” said Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., director of the CTRC. “Encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against HPV is an excellent way to start.”
HPV can be prevented by administering the safe and effective three-dose vaccine series to preteens, teenagers and young adults. However, a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys in the U.S. have completed the vaccination series.
In South Texas, where predominately Latino residents struggle with various cultural and access-to-care barriers, the rates were even lower.
With a new $1.2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, CTRC researchers are developing professional education and community outreach programs to inform adolescents about the vaccine and encourage them to complete the three-shot series.