Alabama Department of Public Health urges vaccination against HPV


The human papillomavirus – or HPV – is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. With more than 170 types of HPV, roughly a dozen strands are linked to cancer.  And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all sexually active people will contract one of the viruses during their lifetime. 

Which is why the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Immunization Division, wants to increase awareness about a cancer-prevention vaccine, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

“HPV is such a common virus, and nearly all men and women contract it at some point in their lives. The danger of HPV is the nine different types of strains of infection it causes, seven of which are cancer causing,” said Dr. Karen Landers, District Medical Officer.

The HPV vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is recommended by the CDC for both males and females to protect young children from cancer. The vaccine is routinely given at 11 or 12 years of age, but it may be given beginning at age 9 years through age 26 years.

Since its introduction in 2006, HPV vaccine has consistently demonstrated effectiveness by decreasing the number of infections and HPV precancers in young people. The vaccine underwent years of extensive safety testing before being licensed by the FDA. According to the National Cancer Institute, the HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection when given before initial exposure to the virus.

Video contest to increase awareness

In an effort to increase awareness of the HPV vaccine and its benefits, ADPH is conducting a video contest in partnership with the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that will be open to teenagers who reside in Alabama, ages 15-19. Videos should focus on the occupations or activities they would like to have in the future without the threat of cancers caused by HPV.

A panel of judges comprised of ADPH Immunization staff, Cancer Prevention staff, and the AAP will review the video submissions and select the winning video. Submissions are due by Dec. 15, 2017, and the winning video will be announced on Dec. 29, 2017.

“Our goal is to educate both young children and parents about the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Landers. “This is a vaccine that can save lives and allow young Alabamians to have a healthier future.”

The winner of the contest will receive a $250 gift card from Target, as well as be promoted on the ADPH website.