HPV vaccine recommended for preteens to help prevent cancer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- August is National Immunization Awareness Month. It was established to highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.

The HPV vaccine is among those vaccines that many doctors urge parents to make sure their children receive. The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause a host of unpleasant and potentially fatal diseases. It's also transmitted sexually.

Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Draion Burch joined ABC7 News at 11 to explain why it's so important to get this vaccine.

HPV is a collection of more than 150 viruses that cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. It has also caused anal and throat cancer and genital warts in men and women.

The virus is contagious and is typically spread through skin-to-skin contact or intercourse - vaginal, anal or oral - with a person infected with HPV.

The HPV vaccine, which has been around for about 11 years, is recommended for preteen girls and boys, so their immunity to the virus can build up prior to their becoming sexually active.

Pediatricians recommend administering the two-dose vaccine to 12-year-olds - three doses at 16 or older.

HPV statistics:

-80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV in the US (about 1 in 4)
-14 million people become newly infected each year with HPV
-90 percent of people infected with HPV will clear it from their bodies within two years
-10 percent with chronic infection are at the greatest risk of developing disease and cancer

CLICK HERE for more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the HPV vaccine.

CLICK HERE to find out more about Dr. Drai.
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