Push to Increase HPV Vaccination Rates

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – HPV is on the rise and healthcare professionals met on Wednesday to discuss what they can do to better help prevent and treat the cancers that often come from this disease.

“That is when they found the mass on my cervix,” Teolita Rickenbacker said.

Rickenbacker was diagnosed with Stage 4 cervical cancer two years ago, a common factor that comes from contracting HPV. She explains how when she grew up, HPV vaccinations were not as common.

“There was always that why wasn’t it available when I was younger so I could get the vaccination so I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today.”

Rickenbacker beat cervical cancer and now shares her journey with others to encourage more young women and men to get vaccinated before it is too late.

“The biggest thing and the biggest key is just educating and spreading awareness about HPV.”

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and is a risk factor for a number of cancers in both men and women. According to the Department of Health, nearly two-thirds of women in New York are diagnosed with an HPV related cancer each year and although more women are infected than men, HPV can still affect both genders.

This summit hosted by the American Cancer Society discussed ways to spread awareness about HPV vaccines for both men and women such as more doctors explaining the necessity of the vaccine to parents.

“We understand the development of HPV causing cancer and we had an opportunity to really eradicate this disease for people in the years to come,” Duncan Savage, Radiation Oncologist at St. Peters Hospital, said. “What a great opportunity we have to be able to do that with vaccination.”

The almost 90 health care professionals and educators that attended the summit today were all given superhero masks to show you do not need a cape to fight HPV.

“See the research and hear the best strategies to communicate to patients and parents about why it’s so important to be vaccinated,” Michael Seserman, Manager of State Health Systems at American Cancer Society, said.

The American Cancer Society announced today after the summit that they will be starting a New York State HPV Coalition to share ways to help get more people vaccinated.

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