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HPV vaccination the focus of a national conference in Lexington

Participants offer group reports on ways to increase HPV vaccinations 04-17-24
Stu Johnson
Participants offer group reports on ways to increase HPV vaccinations 04-17-24

Kentucky has a high percentage when it comes to cancers caused by human papillomavirus or H-P-V. Representatives of cancer centers from across the U.S. gathered in Lexington this week to discuss ways to raise vaccination rates.

Just over half of young people in Kentucky are fully vaccinated when it comes to HPV. So says Pam Hull with the UK Markey Cancer Center. She says it can prevent some six cancers including cervical, head and neck and penile cancers. Hull says the goal is to get HPV vaccination up to 80%.

“But we do know looking at our data that vaccination coverage rates are a little lower in our rural areas and we actually have higher cancer rates there for HPV cancer in our rural areas,” said Hull.

Ideally, Hull says boys and girls between nine and 12 should be vaccinated, to provide protection well before exposure to the virus. She says working with pediatricians, social media, and community partnerships can all help to raise awareness. Hull noted one can still be vaccinated until age 26, but the sooner the better. Hull added HPV is not typically an issue for much older adults.

“Most HPV infections happen younger in life..adolescence..early adulthood, in the 20’s. Things like that. The most common is in people’s 20’s,” said Hull.

Hull said if the HPV vaccination rate is raised and more women are screened for cervical cancer, that form of cancer can be eliminated in this country and likewise the world.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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