HPV, which stands for human papillomavirus, is a very common, sexually transmitted viral infection that’s usually fairly harmless. In some cases, though, it can cause six different types of cancer — including cervical and throat cancer. While there’s no treatment for HPV, there is a vaccine that can prevent it. So, Lyda Hill Philanthropies is giving $4.6 million to launch an American Cancer Society campaign to increase preteen vaccination rates for HPV in 26 North Texas counties.
The ACS’ “Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas” effort will be aimed at hundreds of thousands of North Texas preteens over the next three years. Its goal will be to increase their vaccination rates so that 80 percent of 13-year-old boys and girls in the targeted counties are fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 2016. That’s an ambitious goal, since Texas currently ranks 44th out of 50 states for HPV vaccination rates among children ages 13-17, with fewer than 40 percent of them receiving the vaccine.
“HPV vaccination is cancer prevention,” Jeff Fehlis, executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement. “If 80 percent of pre-teen boys and girls received the HPV vaccine, combined with continued screening and treatment for pre-cancers, we could see the elimination of vaccine-preventable HPV cancers in the United States and globally.”
The ACS recommends the 2-shot HPV vaccine series be given to boys and girls at ages 11 or 12. The vaccination could prevent 90 percent of HPV cancers if given at the recommended age.
“Cancer impacts us all, and we are fortunate to have a vaccine that is known to prevent six types of cancer,” Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, said in a statement. “We are enthusiastic to support the American Cancer Society’s Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas effort to reduce the burden of HPV-related cancer across our community by increasing vaccination rates.”