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HPV Infection Rates Down Thanks to Vaccines

Photograph by Twenty20

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the push for vaccination of young women against HPV has contributed to a significant drop in the number of teens and young women affected by the disease.

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Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, the CDC says, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women get it at some point. It's transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex. Although the virus doesn't always exhibit symptoms in those who have it, it can still be passed between partners when no symptoms are present. HPV can go away on its own, but when it doesn't, it can cause issues such as genital warts as well as cervical, vaginal, anal, penile and throat cancers—in both men and women.

For girls 14 to 19, HPV diagnoses dropped from 11.5 percent to 4.3 percent—about two-thirds. In 2015, the CDC reported that about 40 percent of girls 13 to 17 had received the recommended three-dose regimen and the rate of boys who have received the vaccine was about half that. The vaccine has been recommended for girls since 2006 and for boys since 2011. Physicians recommend both boys and girls be at least 9 years old to begin the vaccine boosters.

A 2015 study released by the CDC also showed a sharp decline in the rates of teens who have had sex at least once. In the report, which examined data from 2011 to 2013, 44 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 and 47 percent of boys the same age reported that they'd had sex.

The National Cancer Institute is also calling for more children to receive HPV vaccinations to prevent issues with HPV later in life thanks to these encouraging results.

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