HPV Epidemic – Someone You Love Film – Watch It, Share It!
Every Child By Two is pleased to welcome Linn to our social media team. Linn is a student intern who will be sharing her perspectives on vaccines with us through the eyes of a PhD candidate. We hope you enjoy her first piece of the summer.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11-12.
This vaccine has the potential to prevent 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.
Why then is there such a low rate of vaccine uptake?
Only about 1/3 of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated and less than 14% of boys are fully vaccinated.
One study looked to identify the barriers to uptake of HPV vaccine and found that it was not the lack of perceived risk or vaccine safety that kept parents from vaccinating their children, but the perception that it would increase risky sexual behavior in adolescents even though there is no evidence that this will occur.
As a young student, I remember learning about the HPV vaccine in high school. HPV was a sexually transmitted disease that was relatively unknown, but we learned that the vaccine would prevent certain cancers and genital warts. The knowledge that I gained about the ability for this vaccine to prevent these potential diseases prompted me to learn more about the HPV vaccine and increased my desire to receive it.
However, when I discussed it with my mother, an interesting process began to occur. She did not know any information about the HPV vaccine and when I spoke to her about the fact that it prevents a sexually transmitted disease, I could see a shift in her gaze as she narrowed her eyes. I sensed that she was hesitant because of the social stigma that surrounded a female who would get a vaccine that was related to sexual contact.
All of these opinions are related to a negative stigma around sexual behaviors that are not true. And yet these are the thoughts I sensed were running through my mother’s head as she also considered what her own peers would think, as I am sure many others do.
Back then I perceived that the assumptions that are made about females that get an STD vaccine were:
a) She is promiscuous.
b) She is about to become promiscuous.
c) She wants to be promiscuous.
At the time, I even remember having a discussion with a teacher about the HPV vaccine and her speaking about how she refused to give her child the HPV vaccine because “they should not be giving 11-12 girls a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease”. Now I understand that the 11-12 year old visit is the optimal visit, as it eliminates the connection of the vaccine with future sexual contact by integrating it within the routine vaccine schedule, which includes meningitis vaccines and a Tdap booster. In addition, I’ve learned that by waiting to provide the vaccine at a later date, many children fall through the cracks because they do not receive routine health care in their teen years.
While I ended up seeking out and getting the HPV vaccine, because of my background in scientific studies, I must admit that I did not share this with my peers, out of the fear of generating a negative stigma around myself. This is a difficult stigma to break.
Almost a decade later, as I was having coffee with my mother, we ran into one of her colleagues who happened to mention that her daughter’s school was hosting a HPV vaccine clinic. To my surprise, my mother told her colleague that I had ventured out on my own to get the HPV vaccine because I thought that it was the safe and effective thing to do to protect myself from the HPV virus.
It goes to show that perceptions can change in the individual, but that also social culture around vaccines can change too, evident in the fact that both parties were comfortable discussing what was once a stigmatized topic. In my view, this in itself, was a big WIN in the fight against cervical cancer!
Every Child By Two has joined the movement to spread the word about an incredibly powerful documentary that will change the way our friends and loved ones look at the deadly HPV virus.
We hope that you will join us.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). So common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. In fact, 80% of all people under the age of 50 will have HPV at some point in their lives and one in two current college students have HPV.
HPV can cause serious health problems including genital warts and cancers. HPV is thought to be responsible for about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancer, more than 60% of penile cancers, and more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers.
There are HPV vaccines that prevent these diseases from occurring.
Narrated by the American Singer, Vanessa Lynn Williams, this award-winning documentary titled “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” unfolds the experience of five women affected by HPV: their struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. This incredibly powerful documentary also reveals the problems, politics, and misconceptions around this widespread epidemic. Click here to view the film and learn how you can host a screening in your area.
Terrific news: The Indiana Immunization Coalition is offering free CME credits to physicians nationwide who view the film through the Indiana University School of Medicine. This link can be used to view the film and receive 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.
Finally we ask you to help spread the word about the film on Kelly’s birthday by joining the Thunderclap campaign. Simply click HERE to go to the Thunderclap page and follow the simple steps to share via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. They will do all the work for you to spread the word on July 22nd. We at Every Child By Two can’t think of a better way to celebrate the life of someone who Is loved!