The HPV Vaccine is the Most Underused Immunization for Children

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

Once they’re born, children receive a range of vaccinations against seemingly every possible disease. But one vaccination has been severely under-used: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), HPV is the “most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus affects 14M+ people every year, and will affect almost everyone who is sexually active at some point in their lives. HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers, and other cancers associated with orifices used during sexual activity (think vagina, anus, etc.).

A 2014 study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina (UNC) showed that a “sizable minority” of doctors recommended the vaccine “inconsistently, behind schedule or without urgency.”

Here’s what that translates to numerically:

As of 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, whereas 88 percent of boys and girls had been vaccinated against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and 79 percent had gotten the meningococcal vaccine.

But why aren’t children getting this vaccination? One reason is that doctors may be reluctant to talk about sexual activity with children, even if it’s future sexual activity. The vaccination does not rank high on the list of children’s immunizations, and isn’t required in many states. There also has not been a public health scare to drive home the importance of this immunization to parents.

The virus was only approved in 2006, and can be cost-prohibitive: the three-shot series can run up to $1K.

Children, both girls and boys, should receive the vaccination around ages 11-12. Boys can get catch-up vaccines until they’re 21, and girls can do the same until they’re 26. But the vaccine has proven less effective when given during the later years.

#ThrowbackThursday: Adam and Eve’s Phil Harvey, 1991

Phil Harvey, 1991 (IndyWeek)

Phil Harvey, 1991 (IndyWeek)

This year, Adam and Eve founder Phil Harvey will give CatalystCon East’s closing keynote address.

Harvey founded Adam and Eve while getting his master’s degree in family planning administration at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). In 1970, he began a mail-order business selling condoms, flouting the Comstock Law.

Harvey has two businesses: Adam and Eve, the nation’s largest mail-order adult product business (headquartered in Hillsborough, North Carolina) and Phil Harvey Enterprises, Inc. The latter company is a non-profit devoted to bringing contraception to underserved countries. This led him to win the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ (AASECT) Humanitarian Award in 2006.

With that history, Harvey’s keynote should be a must-see.