TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Few teenage girls and young women are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), and many of those who start the regimen fail to take all three doses, new research reveals.
Although studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective against several strains of the sexually transmitted virus, just one-third of teens and young women who start the three-dose series actually finish, and almost three-quarters don't start it at all, according to research being presented this week at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting in Philadelphia.
"Women who are eligible for this vaccine and could potentially benefit aren't getting it at rates to maximally prevent cervical cancer," said study author J. Kathleen Tracy, an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
"This highlights the need for public health promotions and practice patterns to encourage vaccine uptake or at least discussion of the pros and cons," Tracy said.
Tracy has initiated a study to see if text messages will prompt women aged 18 to 26 to keep their follow-up appointments for subsequent doses of the vaccine.
According to background information in the abstract, about 30 percent of sexually active 14- to 19-year-olds are infected with HPV at any one time. Over time, persistent infection can lead to cervical cancer.
Two HPV vaccines are marketed in the United States. Gardasil, approved in 2006 for girls aged 9 and up, protects against four types of HPV, two of which cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers worldwide.
Cervarix, which covers the two strains of the virus responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, was approved in 2009.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 11- and 12-year-old girls be targeted for the v
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