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The story of HPV cancer prevention is deep and diverse. More than 4 out of 5 people in the United States will get HPV at some point in their lives. Most HPV infections go away on their own without any health problems, but some persist and can cause 6 types of cancer. There is no way to know if an HPV infection will lead to cancer.

Through a combination of vaccination, screening, and treatment of precancers, there is the possibility to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers in Texas. From medical professionals to cancer survivors and concerned parents, get inspired by those working to prevent HPV cancer.

Read the stories of Texans working to raise HPV vaccine rates below. For more stories and articles about the HPV vaccine check out our News & Media.

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More Than 40 Health Organizations Launch Texas HPV Coalition to Help Prevent HPV-Related Cancers

Last summer, more than 40 health organizations including the American Cancer Society, Texas Medical Association, UT System, Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, publicly launched the Texas HPV Coalition. The Coalition aims to reduce cancer-related deaths blamed on human papillomavirus (HPV), by increasing vaccination rates statewide.

The HPV vaccine can help prevent 6 types of cancers, but Texas’ vaccination rate is woefully low. June 8th, 2018 marked the 12th anniversary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the HPV vaccine, but Texas currently ranks 44th out of 50 states for HPV vaccination rates among children ages 13-17, with only 39 percent of kids receiving this vaccine. Through a combination of vaccination, screening, and treatment of precancers, there is the possibility to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers in Texas. The 2-shot vaccine series achieves the most complete protection against HPV cancers when the series is completed before age 13, so physicians and other health care professionals recommend people at the ages of 11 to 12 receive the shots.

“The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention,” said Greg Parkington, Senior Manager, State Health Systems for the American Cancer Society. “Texas has a massive opportunity to raise HPV vaccine rates and help protect children against 6 types of cancer. This Coalition believes Texas can do better to save lives and protect more people from HPV-related cancers.”

The HPV vaccine is safe and highly effective. If all 11- and 12-year-olds were vaccinated, an estimated 90 percent of HPV cancers could be prevented, which would mean about 31,000 fewer cases of cancer each year.

The statewide Texas HPV coalition is dedicated to increasing HPV vaccination rates in Texas through coordinated leadership, strategic planning, education, research, and collaboration. Members include partners from diverse sectors across Texas including immunization, physicians, public health, academia, professional societies, cancer prevention and control organizations, industry, state and local agencies, and health systems.

About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. An estimated 80 percent of people will get HPV during their lives. HPV infection causes six different types of cancer: cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and throat cancers. Each year in the United States, about 31,500 men and women are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV. There is no treatment for HPV infection, but vaccination and screening can prevent most HPV-related cancers.

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Dear Texas Moms: We Can Do Better - Dr. Jasmin Tiro

Originally appeared on Dallas Moms

Dear Texas moms –

I get it. We are inundated with the daily deluge of decisions about our children. We are constantly on guard for the health of our family. Even as a public health scientist, I sometimes agonize over the choices I make for the well-being of my daughter, 13, and my son, 10 years old.

But there is one decision that was easy for me to make: Two years ago, I took my daughter to get her human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and next year when my son turns 11, you better believe he will be getting the HPV vaccine as well. This vaccine will help protect my children from six types of cancer for the rest of their lives.

I understand why some parents feel uncertain about this vaccine. There are the conflicting news stories, and we’re bombarded on social media with messages that can cause us to worry and hesitate. I based my decision on scientific data and facts:

HPV vaccination is cancer prevention and the best way to beat cancer is to prevent it.
HPV vaccination is safe and effective.
HPV vaccination is recommended for boys and girls at ages 11-12, before they are exposed to the virus and when medical evidence suggests the immune response is the strongest.

HPV is a common virus similar to the common cold in terms of the number of people infected. About 80 percent of all Americans will get HPV during their lives. Some are able to clear that infection while others develop a persistent infection that leads to pre-cancers. There is no cure, but vaccination, screening, and treatment to remove those pre-cancers can prevent most HPV-related cancers.

Here is a scenario we could see within our lifetimes. Imagine if all 11- to 12-year-olds in the United States were vaccinated against HPV. The American Cancer Society, a leader in the fight against cancer, estimates that 90 percent of HPV-related cancers could be prevented outright with 31,000 fewer cancers each year.

We can make our generation of kids the generation that turns the tide on cancer, but it’s going to take our collective effort as parents. Right now, Texas ranks among the lowest states in completed HPV-vaccinations. We can do better to help save lives and protect our kids from HPV-related cancers.

I encourage you to protect your children against six types of cancer and talk to their pediatrician about the HPV vaccine. For more facts about the HPV vaccine, visit cancer.org/HPVTexas.

A mom just like you,

Jasmin A. Tiro, PhD
Associate Director for Community Outreach, Engagement, & Equity
Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center – UT Southwestern
Texas HPV Coalition

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Coalition Workgroups Collaborate to Craft Innovative Strategies

The Texas HPV Coalition is dedicated to increasing HPV vaccination rates through coordinated work across Texas. Recently, coalition workgroups gathered in Austin, TX for a 2-day workshop focused on crafting innovative strategies and discussing vital projects to help raise HPV vaccination rates. The workgroups hope to advance initiatives that focus on provider education, systems improvement, data and technology, and awareness.

“It’s this type of collaboration, from our diverse group of members, which makes the Texas HPV Coalition’s work truly unique,” said Amanda English, Chair of the Texas HPV Coalition and American Cancer Society State Health Systems Manager.