HPV

Gynecologists cheer FDA decision to expand HPV vaccine to older adults

Oct 9, 2018
Art Writ/Virginia Commonwealth University Capital News Service

Gynecologists hope the federal Food and Drug Administration's decision to approve human papillomavirus vaccine for older adults could protect more people. Missouri has one of the highest rates of cancer caused by the virus in the nation.

FDA officials previously recommended the Gardasil vaccine for those between ages 9 and 26. On Friday, the agency expanded the vaccine for those up to 45.

HPV is a skin virus that’s spread through sexual contact. There are many types of HPV and some eventually cause cancer in men and women, including cervical and throat cancer.

Brian Paul/Side Effects

A generation of young men missed out on the HPV vaccine. Now, Side Effects Public Media's 29-year-old correspondent wonders if that’s putting him at risk.

Why Are So Few Kids Getting the HPV Vaccine?

Apr 20, 2016

Ten years after the federal government approved the first vaccines to combat the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, nine years after those vaccines were recommended for all adolescent girls, and five years after they were recommended for all adolescent boys, less than half of girls and only a fifth of boys are getting immunized.

Despite state efforts to raise vaccination rates, public health officials say that for a variety of reasons, mainly wariness over the HPV’s association with sex, parents and especially doctors have not embraced the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Ed Uthman/Flickr

A few weeks ago, Micah Clark, head of the conservative American Family Association of Indiana, received a letter from the Indiana State Department of Health that troubled him. It stated that his 14-year old daughter hadn’t yet been vaccinated for human papillomavirus, or HPV, and encouraged a vaccination to protect against various cancers.

At a booth at a health fair in Indianapolis, a 27 year-old African American woman named Sasha clicks through a computerized survey about cervical cancer.  “I’m here taking advantage of all the free health screenings they have today, just to find out things to take care of my body,” she says.


Nine years after it was first approved in June 2006, the HPV vaccine has had a far more sluggish entree into medical practice than other vaccines at a similar point in their history, according to a report in Tuesday's JAMA.

This might not surprise those who remember the early days of the human papillomavirus vaccine, which was targeted at girls aged 11 and 12 to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that causes cancer — but which opponents quickly branded as a vaccine that would promote teenage promiscuity.

Cervical cancer, which still kills about 4,000 American women every year, is almost entirely preventable. Proper screening can catch early warning signs that could lead to cancer without the right treatment. But how often women should get screened and which tests should be used has been hotly debated by women, doctors and medical researchers for the past decade.

Two medical groups say doctors could replace the Pap smear with a different test to screen many women for cervical cancer.

But that recommendation, included in an "interim guidance" released Thursday, is highly controversial; other experts call it premature.

Pan American Health Organization/Flickr.org

  PHILADELPHIA — “Knowledge is power” is an old saying. Another cliché warns, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” When it comes to getting inoculated against the Human Papilloavirus (HPV), it seems that neither saying is true. In fact, according to a study by a multidisciplinary University of Pennsylvania research team, knowledge may in fact be a meaningless thing.

Though the vaccine against human papilloma virus is highly effective in preventing certain forms of cancer, the number of preteens getting the vaccine is still dismally low, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

"One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn't been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing.

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