Every year, nearly than 40,000 men and women are diagnosed with a cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and about 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. Recently, Heather Brandt, PhD, the Director of the HPV Cancer Prevention Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, conducted a satellite media tour to increase awareness and education about the importance of HPV vaccination in preventing HPV-related cancers. Dr. Brandt is urging parents and caregivers to include HPV vaccination in their child’s back-to-school immunizations.
A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/36xZsO3L3U4
There are several good reasons to immunize children against HPV as early as possible. HPV vaccination is recommended for males and females ages 9-26. HPV vaccination is encouraged to be completed by the 13th birthday, well before the potential for exposure to HPV, which is why Dr. Brandt is encouraging including HPV vaccination as part of a child’s back-to-school preparation.
HPV can cause six different types of cancers: cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oral, anal and penile. One of the biggest misconceptions is that HPV only affects women, which is false. Men can also be diagnosed with HPV and carry the virus, which is why HPV vaccination is encouraged for both females and males.
It is important that parents know which vaccines are recommended for their children and why. This allows for parents to have a thorough discussion with their child's health care provider and can avoid surprises and last-minute decision-making on vaccines. For more information go to stjude.org/hpv.
Heather M. Brandt, PhD, is the Director of the HPV Cancer Prevention Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Brandt, a social and behavioral scientist, focuses on working with stakeholders to prevent and control cancer by using evidence-based interventions through innovative, partnered approaches.
About the HPV Cancer Prevention Program
Launched in 2021, the HPV Cancer Prevention Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has set out to increase awareness and education about the importance of HPV vaccination in preventing HPV-related cancers. As the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated solely to children, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has an important role and responsibility in increasing HPV vaccination rates locally, regionally, and nationally.