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By Melissa Patrick
Ky. Health News
The Kentucky Rural Health Association is devoting a one-day conference to discuss a vaccine that can protect against infections and cancers caused by the human papillomavirus.
The HPV Vaccine Conference will be held at the Knicely Conference Center on Nashville Road in Bowling Green from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST on April 14. Click here for registration.
The conference agenda has not been released, but a draft agenda says it will include, among other topics, speakers who will talk about strategies to improve HPV immunization rates, rural HPV data, HPV vaccine resources and inter professional collaborations to increase HPV vaccination.
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, throat and the back of the tongue. More than 90% could be prevented by the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for all 11- and 12-year-olds, although the series can be started at age 9. It is also recommended for those 13 to 26 if not vaccinated already. A three-dose schedule is recommended for people who get their first dose on or after their 15th birthday and for people with certain immunocompromised conditions.
In addition, it is also recommended that anyone between 27 and 45 who is not vaccinated should talk to their health-care provider about their risk of infection and the benefits of getting vaccinated.
In 2020, only 55.7% of Kentucky teens aged 13 through 17 had received all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, slightly below the national rate of 58.6%, according to the America’s Health Rankings. Kentucky ranks 29th among the states.
Those rates are even lower in rural Kentucky. Research published in the Journal of Rural Health found that HPV vaccination rates are 11% lower than urban rates.
America’s Health Rankings reports that among Kentucky’s 13-to-17-year-olds, 65.5% of the HPV vaccines were given to girls and 46.4% were given to boys.