In early March, the world celebrated International Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Awareness Day.
There are approximately 150 types of HPV, and there is no cure. The most serious types of HPV can cause cancer of the sexual organs, as well as the mouth and throat. HPV is spread from intimate skin-to-skin contact and is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with 80% of Americans getting HPV at some point in their lifetime. Most infections occur in teens and young adults.
School-aged children need 2-3 shots (based on age) and vaccination can begin as early as 9 years old but typically begins at age 11-12, before entering 7th grade. Administering the vaccine to people within this age range is done so because peoples’ bodies have the strongest immune response to the vaccine at those ages. Additionally, people should be vaccinated against HPV before they begin any type of sexual activity. According to the RI Department of Health, Rhode Island students are required to begin the HPV vaccine series before entering 7th grade. In addition, HPV vaccination is recommended for:
- Males up to 21 years old, if they were not vaccinated when they were younger.
- Females up to 26 years old, if they were not vaccinated when they were younger.
- People with compromised immune systems, and other people who are at high risk for HPV.
The HPV vaccine is considered cancer prevention, and individuals of all genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds should get vaccinated. If you or your school-aged child are interested in more information on the HPV vaccine, please call Block Island Health Services at (401) 466-2974.
– BIHS Clinical Team
HPV Campaign Toolkit