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First generation able to get HPV vaccine now entering age when many HPV-caused cancers are first detected

The generation first to have the HPV vaccine available are now entering their late 20s and early 30s, the age when many HPV-caused cancers are first detected. While other countries have nearly eliminated cervical cancer, the U.S. is not seeing this trend due to a far lower immunization rate. 

Here, vaccination remains up to individual discretion, and Americans have proven less likely than their European counterparts to vaccinate against the cancer-causing virus. HPV vaccination also represents a “reverse disparity,” where the vaccination rate is higher among racial and ethnic minorities compared to their white counterparts, who may see the vaccine as optional rather than a requirement, explains Kayoll Gyan, RN, of Northeastern University’s School of Nursing where she researches social and cultural barriers to HPV vaccination 

A huge part of the problem is that the HPV vaccine is not required in U.S. schools. Right now, vaccine requirements for schools are based upon how easily a virus can spread with everyday contact, and while HPV is highly contagious, it isn’t easily spread in schools. 

“The decision for school entry requirements around vaccines is made under a very narrow scope and is not indicative of public health need or priority,” says Jennifer Sienko, director of communications and public engagement at the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable in Chicago. 

See “The first generation to grow up with HPV vaccine reaches adulthood” by Danica Jefferies and Sophia Paffenroth on the Boston Scope website (February 7, 2022)

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