When her life should have been full of possibilities, Mandy Murry faced a devastating diagnosis. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 22. She had her cervix and uterus removed for treatment. Her doctor believes the cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
I had to live this “happy and everlasting” story of having my children, “says Murry, 41, who grew up in Utah and now lives in North Carolina.” I was not prepared for the depth of healing I needed after school. Without a uterus, I felt “less than.” I did not feel worthy of happiness. I did not choose HPV. It was given to me due to unforeseen circumstances. vaccine It didn’t exist when I was young and it could have been avoided. “
HPV is a group of over 200 virus relatives, 40 of whom are transmitted through direct sexual contact. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is the cause of nearly all cervical cancers, plus five other cancers: vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal (throat and mouth cancers). HPV vaccines, given in a series of injections, protect against HPV infection and cancer.
Generally ranked among the lowest in United States for teens adequately vaccinated against HPV, Utah has seen a 16.4% increase in this vaccine for young men and women aged 13-17 from 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ). The state jumped in the rankings from 44th placeAnd at 20th in the country for the first dose of HPV vaccine.
“This is the biggest increase I’ve ever seen in our state,” says Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, researcher at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute and director of Intermountain West HPV. Vaccination Coalition, a group of healthcare specialists Health and community members who have been working since 2012 to improve HPV vaccination rates. According to Kepka, this shows a shift in attitude towards the HPV vaccine, including the recognition that people can have more than one sexual partner. “We are going in the right direction. The truth is that life happens. Most marriages end in divorce, regardless of the person’s religious affiliation. It is better to protect children from the unexpected. “
More and more young people are receiving the HPV vaccine in Utah, a 19.7 percent increase from 2021, according to the CDC. The agency also found that throat cancer has overtaken cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related cancer, underlining the importance for young men and women to get vaccinated.
The CDC recommends that all children and adults between the ages of 9 and 26 be vaccinated against HPV, although the HPV vaccine is most effective in the early teens, ages 9 to 12, according to the American CancerSociety.
Babies have a stronger immune response. They are likely to be better protected when vaccinated at a young age. “
Kaila Christini, MsPH, MS, Program Manager, Kepka Group
Ms. Murry recommends that all parents vaccinate their children against HPV. “You never know what can happen in life. The vaccine is not licensed to engage in sexual activity. It can literally stop you from getting cancer, “she says.
Shay Bilinski, Senior Director of Strategic Cancer Support Partnerships at the American Cancer Society, says, “There is still work to be done. Getting your child vaccinated against HPV is the gift of cancer prevention. Do not hesitate to give this gift ”.
HPV vaccination is covered by most private insurance plans. The Utah Vaccines for Children program provides free or low-cost vaccines to Medicaid, CHIP, uninsured or underinsured children up to age 18.
Ms. Kepka and her team’s cancer prevention work serving disadvantaged, rural and border communities through community collaboration is a vital part of this effort. Her research and outreach work is supported by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.