The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the world. This infection is so common that all sexually active individuals will get infected by this virus at some point in their lives.
Although most infections get cured on its own, this one, in particular, can lead to cancer. More than 42,000 cancer cases registered in the US each year occurs due to HPV infections. These cancers include anal, penile, oropharyngeal, and vaginal cancer. Some kinds of HPVs are can also cause genital warts.
How Does this Infection Spread?
Since most vaccinated people will get affected by HPV infection once in their life, it is very important to know how this virus spreads. HPV vaccination can spread from,
- Getting sexually involved with an infected individual
- Skin-to-skin contact with the infected body part of an individual
This infection, however, does not spread from common toilet seats, sharing food, or swimming pools.
Awareness Among Teenagers About HPV Prevention
HPV Prevention and sex education go hand-in-hand in HPV vaccination programs. Given that this is a sexually transmitted disease, the cause of HPV and how to prevent it must be known to all teenagers in the middle and high school.
Indulging in sexual activity is a part of growing up for teenagers in the US. So, they need to access non-stigmatizing and comprehensive sources of information about reproductive and sexual health. One important part of HPV prevention programs apart from spreading awareness is to ensure that the vaccine is accessible for all teenagers, male and female.
Who can Get the Vaccine?
The American Cancer Society states that girls and boys of 11 to 12 years of age are best suited for receiving the HPV vaccine. This is also the ideal age for them to join HPV prevention programs. If they are made aware of positive sexual and reproductive practices and repercussions of not following from the start of their teenage years, there are higher chances of them practicing safe sex, avoiding unwanted pregnancies, and preventing transmission of STD like HPV. The American Cancer Society further states that the HPV vaccine can be started as young as 9 and can be continued until 18 in four to six stages.
Apart from teenagers, the HPV vaccine is also important for the following group of people:
- Females and males between the ages of 13 to 26 years of age, who are yet to receive the vaccination or the full course.
- Males you are 26 years old or less and is sexually involved with other males.
- People with a weak immune system and lacking proper vaccination.
Teenagers of 11 to 16 years are the ideal candidates for participating in HPV prevention programs. In HPV prevention programs, the young adults are taught how the HPV infection is transmitted and the adverse effects of the same. They are also made aware of how this can be prevented and healed. This awareness would also increase the number of HPV vaccination taking place in the US.
HPV Vaccine Rates Quite Low in the US
Despite the HPV vaccine being available in healthcare establishment for more than ten years, the rates are still low in the US. According to a 2017 CDC datasheet, 48.6 percent of the 13 to 17-year-old females and males were still to complete the vaccination series. Individually only 53.1 percent 13 to 17-year-old females and 44.3 percent of males from the same age category had completed the whole series of HPV vaccination. Therefore, there is a dire need for HPV Prevention programs to be introduced in schools to increase this percentage.
Why Do We Need HPV Prevention Programs in Middle and High Schools?
Awareness about HPV infection and vaccine gained through HPV prevention programs is essential for young adults, who are on the verge of sexual development and are curious about this aspect of their life. At this stage of life, they must learn about these sexually transmitted diseases and strengthen their immune system to avoid it in the future.
Here are a few reasons why all school districts must carry out HPV prevention programs for the students.
Vaccination will Prevent Future Infections
HPV vaccination, as stated before, was introduced more than a decade ago. Since the introduction of the vaccine in the market, the infection transmission rates have gone down significantly. However, it can be better if young adults all over the US finish the course of this vaccine in the US.
HPV Infection is Common Disease
This sexually transmitted infected is extremely common. So, young adults should receive the necessary education as soon as possible to take proper precautionary steps. Otherwise, it would be delaying the inevitable.
HPV Prevention Programs and Vaccines Offer Long-Term Safety
The HPV infection can lead to fatal and life-threatening diseases that can be successfully prevented by completing a four series vaccination. Therefore, the prevention programs and vaccinations not only provides you with valuable knowledge about a common virus but also helps you stay safe from developing several diseases and infections.
HPV Vaccination Can Prevent Cancer
The HPV virus has been accounted for US 33,700 cancer cases. HPV vaccination can bring down this number by approximately 90 percent. As a matter of fact, the risk of all the diseases originating from the HPV virus will be reduced significantly once a person gets vaccinated.
HPV prevention programs enable young adults to receive comprehensive knowledge about this life-threatening virus and how it can harm our health. Along with education, they also receive the necessary knowledge about preventive measures like vaccination and safe sex. Therefore, the school management has a major role to play in implementing HPV prevention programs properly.