HPV Vaccination Rates

HPV Cells
HPV Cells

Picture the average South Carolina public high school, which has about 600 students. That’s close to the number of people in the state who get a cancer related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) each year.

To combat this public health problem, Hollings Cancer Center has launched a $700,000 three-year HPV initiative. Working in conjunction with numerous statewide partners including the South Carolina Cancer Alliance, the American Cancer Society and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the cancer center has prioritized this as one of its top cancer prevention outreach projects.

Spearheading the campaign is Kathleen Cartmell, Ph.D., a public health researcher with Clemson University’s Department of Public Health Sciences, and Marvella Ford, Ph.D., the associate director of Population Science and Cancer Disparities at Hollings Cancer Center.

Cartmell says, “The HPV vaccine is extremely safe and effective, and it can dramatically help lower the number of HPV-related cancers, including cervical and anal cancers. There is an urgency right now to let parents and pediatricians know about their critical role in protecting children with the vaccine at an age when children’s immune systems offer the best protection.”

Graph showing an over increase in HPV vaccination rate in South Carolina from 2016 to 2018. 
From 2016 to 2018, HPV vaccination rates in South Carolina have increased to over 10% for boys and 14% for girls.

Hollings Cancer Center Director Gustavo Leone, Ph.D., says this is low-hanging fruit in cancer prevention. “I didn’t want us to look back and realize we could have done something – that we could have worked harder. This isn’t rocket science. This is something that is reachable. We can save lives with this vaccine.”

Efforts are beginning to pay off.

From 2016 to 2018, there has been a significant increase, over 10% for boys and 14% for girls, in HPV vaccination rates in South Carolina.

“We’re so happy that the HPV vaccination rates continue to rise in South Carolina. We feel like this is due to the extraordinary efforts of a lot of state partners,” says Cartmell. “It’s amazing what can happen when everybody works together to figure out how they could do their part to help solve a problem. And I believe that’s why our HPV vaccination rates are going to continue to rise each year in South Carolina.”

Did You Know

  • Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a group of 150+ related viruses.
  • HPV causes more than 30,000 cases of cancer each year.
  • The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 to 12.
  • If HPV vaccination is initiated prior to turning 15, only two doses of the vaccine are needed. However, if the vaccine series is started at age 15 or older, three doses of the HPV vaccine are needed.
  • The vaccine protects against six types of HPV- related cancers, including most cervical and anal cancers and some cancers of the oropharynx, vulva, vagina and penis.

For More

Parents have the power to shape the future — they can prevent cancer by choosing HPV vaccination.

Please join us in making South Carolina HPV cancer free. Follow the social media campaign on Facebook (HPVvaxSC) and Twitter @HPVvaxSC, and check out our new website at MUSChealth.org/HPV.