FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Fred Wyand has been in a prime spot to watch the evolution of the public health response to human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Since 2003, Wyand has served as editor of HPV News, a bimonthly newsletter published by the American Social Health Association. The newsletter has been around since the 1990s.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that most people associate with genital warts, a temporary but somewhat repugnant condition. But the more dangerous potential side effects of HPV infection are not as well known, Wyand said.
"It's probably just within the last 30 or 40 years that science has begun to understand the connection between high-risk HPV types and cancers of the cervix, penis and anus," he said. "That's not even talking about the genital warts that aren't cancer-causing. So there's a lot of things to talk about."
An HPV vaccine has been on the market and recommended for girls and young women for several years now, but has been slow to catch on. Wyand said that studies have shown only about half of all girls now get the vaccine, although the numbers may have improved slightly in recent years.
Early on, there was some controversy when parents objected to having girls of 12 or 13 inoculated for a sexually transmitted disease, but those arguments have mostly faded, Wyand said.
"It's kind of hard to argue that by giving someone an HPV vaccine you're prompting them to go out and become sexually active," he said. "Not a lot of people are putting their attention on that issue these days."
He believes HPV vaccination rates are low because people either haven't heard about the vaccine or find it difficult to keep it in mind with all the other recommended childhood shots and checkups.
"There's still a lot of room for educating parents and educators," Wyand said. "It is a relatively new vaccine so it's sort of slow get
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