On January 27, 2016, directors of the nation’s 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers called for all children and young adults to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV). In San Antonio, the call to action came from Dr. Ian M. Thompson Jr., director of the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Cancer Center is one of the state’s four NCI-designated Cancer Centers.
“In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked the nation’s leaders to embrace cancer prevention. Encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against HPV is an excellent way to combat the most common sexually transmitted infection, which also is the cause of most cervical, anal and other genital cancers,” Dr. Thompson said.
HPV can be prevented by administering the safe and effective three-dose vaccine series to preteens, teenagers and young adults. However, a 2015 CDC report states that only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys in the U.S. have completed the vaccination series. Vaccination rates in South Texas, where predominantly Latino residents struggle with various cultural and access-to-care barriers, are even lower.
With a new $1.2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, Cancer Center researchers are taking this national call to action a step further by developing a professional education and community outreach program to inform adolescent patients about the vaccine and encourage them to complete the three-shot series.