More Information Needs to Be Available to Prevent Illness

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Some people are lucky enough to clear the infection on their own, but for others, it can cause genital warts, as well as cancer of the genital area or throat. About 12,000 U.S. women are diagnosed every year with cervical cancer, often caused by HPV.

HPV is preventable. Vaccines for the virus exist and is easily available. Children and teenagers just have to take them before they become sexually active and they’ll be safe. It’s that simple.

The problem though is that any time something new and valuable is introduced to the world, superstitions and myths are perpetuated in the following years and decades that stop people from enjoying the innovation. With vaccines, there’s a common (but baseless) fear among parents that they cause autism. There is also the common (but baseless) perception that the risk of the HPV virus is low.

These myths usually exist to reinforce an ideology. For example, parents might believe that children shouldn’t have sex before marriage. Or they might have a deep hatred for government or medicine in general. They don’t want their children to take this vaccine for those reasons, and they use the common (but baseless) fear and perception to reinforce that want. Convincing these parents they’re wrong could be difficult, but it has to be done.

Sometimes, parents don’t get the vaccines just because of lack of information. They, for example, don’t know that the vaccine needs to be taken three times to fully protect people from the virus. This is a more easily resolvable problem. More reminders and more information in various languages can keep parents aware, and hopefully save a few lives.