- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the HPV vaccination rates for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 in Indiana remain below the national averages, but a medical expert attributes the state’s lag to increasing rates across the U.S.

More than 44 percent of the state’s teenage girls have received the full dose of the HPV vaccine, compared to 60 percent nationwide. Indiana is among the top 10 least-vaccinated states for teenage boys, with nearly 13 percent of them fully vaccinated, compared to 40 percent nationwide.

Dr. Gregory Zimet is a professor of pediatrics and clinical psychology at Indiana University’s School of Medicine and co-director of Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis’ Center for HPV Research. Although he’s unsure why more of Indiana’s youth aren’t getting HPV vaccinations, he said the nation’s overall HPV vaccination rates for both genders are increasing, by 3 percentage points for girls and 8 percentage points for boys.

“One part of the reason males lag behind females could be that the routine recommendation for males came out in 2011, whereas for females it was several years earlier,” Zimet said.

The HPV vaccine is licensed for males ages 13 to 21 and for females ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is given in three doses, with the separate doses spaced out between two or four months, depending on which dose.

The amount of boys and girls ages 13 to 17 in Indiana who have received the first dose is greater than those who have been fully vaccinated. More than 61 percent of the state’s teenage girls and more than 23 percent of boys have received the first dose of the HPV vaccine.

Some parents or physicians may be hesitant to vaccinate children against HPV, despite research proving the vaccination reduces a person’s risk of cervical, head, neck and anal cancers.

“I think there was a lot of anxiety around this particular vaccine that has led to slower rates of vaccination,” Zimet said. “I think there are doctors who feel uncomfortable that they have to bring up sexual behavior in context of this vaccine.”

HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses, can cause genital warts and several forms of cancer, The (Bloomington) Herald Times (https://bit.ly/1Dn5gEU ) reported. About 79 million people in the U.S. currently are infected.

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com


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