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Not nearly enough people receive the HPV vaccination, U of M study says

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HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. – but the number of people getting vaccinated against it is still really low.

A study released Monday by the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health says only 35 percent of adolescent females and 10 percent of adolescent males in the U.S. receive at least one dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, according to a news release.

“HPV vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and are the first ever cancer-fighting vaccines,” said Nicole Basta, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and co-author of the study. “Under-utilization of vaccines, vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal are all major public health concerns so we as public health professionals must work diligently to ensure that vaccine uptake increases and is maintained at a high level."

About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and about 14 million more become infected each year, according to the CDC. The agency suggests all 11- or 12-year-olds get the three-dose vaccination, and catch-up vaccines are recommended for males up to age 21 and females through age 26.

"HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives," said the government agency.

There are more than 100 varieties of HPV that can cause warts and various types of cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Overall, sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota are at an all-time high, according to a report recently by the Minnesota Department of Health. Cases have increased by 33 percent over the last five years. Read more on that here.

More on the U of M study

Earlier research has suggested obese and overweight teens were less likely to receive the vaccination – but the U of M study found that was not the case, and they were just as likely as their peers to get vaccinated.

The researchers concluded that finding new ways to encourage adolescents to take the vaccine would be a good next step in HPV vaccination research, and steps to do this are already underway.

Basta says defining target groups that are most likely to not get the vaccine could enhance HPV vaccine research.

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