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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TENNESSEE: Politics Obscures HPV Vaccine's Benefits
Tom Wilemon
October 14, 2011
Tennessean (Nashville) (10.09.11) - Friday, October 14, 2011

Tennessee has a cervical cancer mortality rate of 2.8 deaths per 100,000 women, compared with the national average rate of 2.4, according to CDC data for 2007. However, only 33 percent of Tennessee females ages 13-17 had received at least one dose of vaccine against human papillomavirus in 2010, CDC reported in August. About one-quarter of girls had received the full three doses, compared with a national average of about one in three.

"It is recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics," Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC's director, said of the HPV vaccine. "It has been reviewed by the Institute of Medicine. Because it protects against a disease that is sexually transmitted, it gets fairly controversial." "Our biggest challenge is trying to overcome all the misinformation that is out there," said Dr. Kelly Moore, medical director of immunizations for the Tennessee Department of Health. "The bottom line is this is an exciting advance in preventing cancer in future generations." "We give it at [ages] 11 and 12 for very practical reasons," said Moore. "It's not because we are trying to force people to have conversations about sexual activity with preteens. It's because that's when we are giving other vaccines." The three-dose regimen can cost $400-$450, but health departments provide the vaccinations free to males and females 19 or younger. "More and more evidence is becoming available showing that cancers are caused by HPV in men also," Moore said, though she noted Tennessee has no plans to mandate the shots.

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