WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Every year, approximately 31,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with a type of cancer caused by an infection from the human papillomavirus.
- HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection across the country.
- The CDC encourages pediatricians to recommend HPV vaccination for all their patients, both male and female, beginning at age 11.
HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. It can also cause some cases of oral cancer, cancer of the anus and genital warts.
According to Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, only 29 percent of the teens its members insured get a first dose of the HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday. While the CDC discovers only 43 percent of teens in the U.S. are receiving all the recommended doses of the vaccine.
Dr. Margaret Stager said: “It’s important for 12 and 13-year-olds to get the HPV vaccine to provide immunity so that when they may be exposed to HPV later in life, typically through sexual activity, they have protection.”
Dr. Stager is a pediatrician at the Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“People get HPV from another person during intimate sexual contact. Most of the time, people get HPV from having vaginal or anal sex. Men and women can also get HPV from having oral sex or other sex play,” the CDC explained.
There are two good reasons to get the vaccine at age 11. “Firstly, there’s a more effective immune response if it is given in early adolescence. Secondly, it works best if given before any sexual exposure.”
In 2011, the recommendation to also vaccinate boys began. That’s after years it was initially recommended for girls. It’s been noted that males are getting HPV-related cancers.
“We’re seeing a trend in adult men with oral cancers related to HPV. These oropharyngeal cancers occur in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. Oral HPV cancer is much more common in men than women. This is the [age] group of men that did not have the opportunity to get the HPV vaccine,” Stager said.
“It’s related to oral sex,” Stager explained when asked about the link between HPV and oral cancer.
The CDC has reported an increase in the cases of HPV-related cancers in men in recent years, most especially in oropharyngeal cancer.
“The fastest growing segment of the oral and oropharyngeal cancer population are otherwise healthy, nonsmokers in the 25-50 age range,” the Oral Cancer Foundation said.
According to the CDC, those in their early and mid-20s who missed being vaccinated can still benefit from getting the HPV vaccine.