The North Dakota Department of Health is urging parents to have their children vaccinated against the human papillomavirus.

The North Dakota Department of Health is urging parents to have their children vaccinated against the human papillomavirus.

According to the National Cervical Council Coalition (NCCC), HPV is found in 99 percent of cervical cancers. The NCCC also reports that a third of the 12,000 women in the US who are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year will die from the disease.

Mandatory HPV vaccination has been controversial in many states, as many have opposed the vaccine on moral grounds. They argue that abstinence solves the problem of HPV infection, though studies such as one conducted by the University of Georgia have repeatedly found that abstinence-only programs are ineffective and lead to higher teenage pregnancy and STD rates.
The Department of Health encourages vaccination for everyone between the ages of 11 of 26 “for the prevention of cervical, throat, and other cancers,” according to a recent news release.
Molly Howell of the Department of Health says that HPV-related cancer is diagnosed in the US every 20 minutes.

“We have an amazing opportunity to prevent certain types of cancer in future generations through HPV vaccination,” Howell said. “Thankfully, HPV rates in North Dakota are increasing. 70 percent of girls and 62 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 have started the HPV series.”
Though North Dakota has so far not joined the 25 states and territories nationwide that have enacted legislation to make HPV vaccination mandatory for those under 18, the Centers for Disease Control reports that the state has a relatively low rate of HPV-associated cervical cancer compared to the rest of the country.

North Dakota does provide funding for HPV education, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, after passing a law in 2007.
However, there are currently no bills before the legislature that would make the vaccine mandatory.

Howell says that young people are especially vulnerable to HPV.
“It is important to be vaccinated against HPV early, before being exposed,” Howell said. “Three out of four new HPV cases are found in people ages 15 to 24.”

More information about the HPV vaccine can be found at www.gethpvvaccine.com or at the Centers for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov/hpv.