Factsheet immunizationprogram November2021

International HPV Awareness Day

Mar 02, 2023 | Amiris Roberson

On March 4th we recognize International HPV Awareness Day. Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is a group of viruses that are sexually transmitted. High-risk HPVs can cause illness and several types of cancer. In the United States, HPV is estimated to cause about 36,000 cases of cancer each year, or about 3% of cancers in women and 2% of cancers in men. Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV.

Vaccines protect against the types of HPV that most often causes various types of cancers. Additionally, cervical cancer can be prevented or found early through regular screening and follow-up treatment. This includes:

  • The Pap test, commonly referred to as the Pap smear, which looks for precancerous changes on the cervix that could become cancer.
  • The HPV test, which identifies the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Local Health Department Implications

Local health departments vaccinate people in their communities, providing one of the most successful and cost-effective services to prevent disease and death. There are many factors that could impact HPV and other vaccination rates in a community. Regarding HPV, LHDs could experience changes in levels of HPV vaccination coverage.

According to the NIS-Teen data, vaccination coverage among older teens was not significantly different from the coverage during the pandemic. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine medical care and recommended vaccinations continues to be explored and researched. It is important to note, though, there continues to be coverage disparities, particularly those who live in non-MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) and living at or above poverty level.

According to the 2015-2018 NIS data, parents citing safety concerns as the primary reason for not initiating HPV vaccination increased from 13.0% (2015) to 23.4% (2018). Disparities among those whose incomes above poverty level could be attributed to vaccine attitudes, beliefs, and confidence being lower among this group.

Resources for LHDs

HPV Vaccination Toolkit from the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition and partners

The HPV Roundtable Resource

American Cancer Society HPV Resources

Shutting the Door on HPV Cancers: an online module from the Immunize Kansas Coalition

The American College Health Association’s toolkits for students and families

Ask the Experts: HPV

Addressing Parents’ Top Questions About HPV Vaccine

Educational Materials

About Amiris Roberson

Program Analyst, Immunization at NACCHO

More posts by Amiris Roberson

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