Protecting the Next Generation from HPV
Jun 30, 2011
On the last day of school, my daughter brought home a flyer that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. It explained that the state law requires the Department of Health to provide the parents of rising sixth grade girls with information on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the Human Papilomavirus vaccine. It went on to explain that some strains of HPV cause cervical cancer in women and that the vaccine targets the strains of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. I was suprised to learn that cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world, and that in the US about 10,000 woment get cervical cancer every year. Sadly, 4,000 women are expected to die each year. As the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US, at least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives.
While the HPV vaccine is not required by our state, the law requires notification, which is why I was receiving the flyer.
I wondered, “How many other children shared this with their parents?” and “How many parents will take the time and effort to get their children vaccinated against HPV, considering it is not requried?” I guess I will never know the answers to those questions, but I do know that my daughter took it seriously. Later that day, or maybe even a day or two after (to be honest, I’m not exactly certain as the first week of summer vacation is always a blur) my daughter asked me – point blank – when she was scheduled to get her vaccine.
I’m fairly certain that my daughter doesn’t know what HPV is. And she most likely doesn’t realize that it is spread through sexual contact. What she does know is that it helps prevent CANCER – a word she knows all too well. A word that she would like to avoid in her life.
As hard as it is to admit, some day my little girl will be having sexual relations and I for one want to ensure that she is protected against HPV. Much like the mother in this Shot By Shot video below, I plan to vaccinate my daughter to protect her from acquiring HPV.
This women’s experience with cervical cancer illustrates how HPV can permenantly impact people’s lives. She shares her story so that others will appreciate the value of this vaccine and take preventive measures. I hope lots of parents will consider this vaccine for both their sons and daughters, regardless of whether it is required by the state or not.
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