Source: New York Times | Page: A1
By: Tavernise, Sabrina
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that the prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) has dropped by more than 50 percent among teenage girls in the United States, highlighting the success of the HPV vaccine, which was introduced in 2006. Despite the fall in infection rates, doctors and public health officials have been increasingly worried about the limited use of the HPV vaccine, which has left U.S. health departments scrambling to increase vaccination rates and pediatricians trying to convince families of the vaccine’s benefits. Only about one-third of U.S. teenage girls have been vaccinated with the full three doses, but infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped from 7.2 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2006 to 3.6 percent in 2010, according to a new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. “These are striking results,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They should be a wake-up call that we need to increase vaccination rates. The bottom line is this: It is possible to protect the next generation from cancer, and we need to do it.” The study used data from interviews and vaginal swabs of more than 8,000 girls and women ages 14 to 59. Each year, there are about 12,000 cases of cervical cancer and 4,000 deaths in the United States alone, but it is estimated that a vaccination rate of 80 percent could prevent another 53,000 cancers and nearly 17,000 deaths.