According to reporter Eryn Brown, writing for the Los Angeles Times, this year's National Cancer Institute's, Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, cancer rates in the United States have been dropping 1.5% each year. That's the good news. The bad news is that the report also reveals upticks in those cancers that are associated with HPV. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV can cause cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) cancer. Each year, more than 21,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in women; cervical being the most common. More than 12,000 HPV-associated cancers occur each year in men; oropharyngeal being the most common.
These numbers are rising at a time when it is technically legal and safe for girls to get vaccinated for the infection, and yet researchers report that nationally, only 32% of girls 13-17 complete the three-dose HPV vaccination series.
According to Cost Effectiveness of a Potential Vaccine for Human papillomavirus, authored by Gillian D. Sanders and Al V. Taira and published with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
"Cervical cancer is one of the most common malignancies in women". This year in the United States, around 13,000 new cases will be diagnosed and about 4,000 women will die of the disease.
The HPV epidemic is preventable: methods of prevention range from educational pamphlets to the most effective -- the vaccine. What worries advocates of women and children is the accessibility of the vaccination. A year ago, in California, it became legal (after the passing of AB 499) for minor girls ages 12-20o receive the HPV vaccination without parental consent -- but there are not transportation and communication assistance programs in place to make that a possibility for most young girls.
According to the National Concerence of State Legislatures, legislation requiring HPV vaccine, education or funding is has been proposed in 41 states and D.C. and 21 states have enacted legislation.
While death from cancer is the ultimate threat, there is ongoing, current issues with infertility, genital warts, and respiratory papillomatosis.
Written by: Taylor McCulloch