When people hear about vaccine deniers — anti-vaxxers, to some — they most often think about parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children. But there’s another type of vaccine refusal, and it’s important that we not ignore that. Doctors sometimes promote the use of some vaccines with less enthusiasm than others. Sometimes, they don’t talk about them at all.
This occurs most often with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. The low immunization rates with this vaccine, and the behaviors of the physicians who might be contributing to that, have consequences.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is very, very common, so much so that almost all sexually active people will get at least one of more than 40 types at some point in their lives. The C.D.C. estimates that almost 80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and that about 14 million people will become newly infected this year.
Most people don’t suffer any real negative health consequences. But some do. About 1 percent of those infected will have genital warts at any given moment. More important, about 17,500 women and 9,300 men will be affected by cancers that HPV causes each year. These include cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, vaginal and penile cancers.
This is preventable. The C.D.C. recommends that all children, boys and girls, begin receiving the first of three vaccinations when they are 11 or 12 years old. The reason we start that young is that it’s important that children be immune well before they become sexually active. Once they are exposed to the virus through sexual activity, the vaccine may be less effective.
Read the full article here