-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Young women living in the
South have much lower rates of vaccination against the human
papillomavirus (HPV) than women in other parts of the United
States, a new study reveals.
The findings are especially alarming because rates of cervical
cancer -- which is caused almost exclusively by HPV -- are higher
in the southern U.S. than in other regions, according to
researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
The study authors analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2010
from 12 states in four regions: the Northeast (Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island); the Midwest (Kansas,
Minnesota, Nebraska); the West (Wyoming); and the South (Delaware,
Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia).
About 28 percent of women in all these states began the vaccine
regimen and 17 percent completed the three-dose series over the
three-year study period. HPV vaccine initiation and completion
rates, respectively, were 37 percent and 23 percent in the
Northeast; nearly 29 percent and about 19 percent in the
Midwest/West; and 14 percent and 6 percent in the South, the
Among people starting the vaccine regimen, rates in the
Northeast rose from nearly 21 percent in 2008 to 44 percent in
2010. In the Midwest/West, the initiation rates dropped from just
over 36 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2010. Initiation rates
were consistently lowest in the South, at 14 percent in 2008 and
22.5 percent in 2010.
White women were more likely than those in other racial/ethnic
groups to begin and complete the vaccine series, according to the
study published in the Nov. 12 online edition of the journal
"If a lower rate of HPV vaccine uptake in the South persists, it could contribute to the national burden of cervical cancer in the long run," Dr. Abbey Berenson, director of UTMB's Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health, said in a university news release.
To lower rates of HPV-related diseases, doctors should do more
to encourage their patients to get vaccinated, Berenson suggested.
More money spent on vaccine programs and educating patients could
also help, she added.
The regional disparities in HPV vaccination could be due to
several factors, including differences in income, education and
insurance coverage, the researchers said.
About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and
most sexually active people will be infected with at least one type
of HPV at some point in their lives. The virus is responsible for
nearly all cases of cervical cancer, which kills more than 4,000
American women a year. Half of those deaths occur in the South.
HPV is also associated with genital warts and cancers of the
mouth and throat, as well as vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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