Hollings Cancer Center celebrates increases in HPV vaccine use

  • Monday, August 25, 2014

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released late July their National Immunization Survey for Teens (NIS-Teen) data showing that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) coverage increased “significantly” from 2012 to 2013 in only five states, with South Carolina among those states and heralded as an example of positive response to advocacy.

South Carolina was mentioned by Anne Schuchat, M.D., assistant surgeon general, United States Public Health Service, and director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in the July 24 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) media telebriefing and in a corresponding CDC article. In responding to media questions, Dr. Schuchat specifically noted Cervical Cancer Free South Carolina as an example of strategies states have used to help increase HPV coverage rates.

Cervical Cancer Free South Carolina was co-founded by MUSC assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Hollings Cancer Prevention and Control Program member Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., along with Heather Brandt, PhD., of the University of South Carolina. Hollings Cancer Center sponsored the first Cervical Cancer Free South Carolina Summit in January to bring together stakeholders from the medical community, public health, community health workers, lawmakers and HPV-related-cancer survivors to discuss issues related to HPV-related cancers and the need for greater awareness of the HPV vaccine.

While South Carolina continues to lag behind national rates of coverage for many other recommended vaccines, the state is now above the national HPV vaccination coverage rate in females receiving one or more HPV vaccines and for females receiving the full course of three doses of HPV vaccine.

Officials are quick to note that there is still much work to be done. “We are excited to see that our efforts to educate the public on the need to protect our children from a variety of cancers with the HPV vaccine is making a difference in South Carolina,” said Dr. Young Pierce. “However, there is much more to be done. Half of South Carolina females ages 13 to 17 years still have not received all HPV vaccine doses, and eight out of 10 South Carolina males ages 13 to 17 years old have not received the HPV vaccine. We can do better.”

The HPV vaccine is now recommended by the CDC and major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and other medical societies, for 11- or 12-year-old boys and girls, for protection from HPV infection and HPV-related disease. According to the CDC, HPV causes more than 20,000 cancers in women and about 12,000 cancers in men annually in the U.S.

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