HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America. With the exception of HIV, it is also the most fatal. But for almost a decade, we've had a vaccine that prevents HPV infection and, by extension, the deadly cancers it causes. So why aren't American adolescents getting access to this vaccine?
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When the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics immediately recommended it be received by all adolescents (in the last decade, these institutions have jointly recommended just two other vaccines, namely meningococcal and Tdap). Their reasoning was simple: The human papilloma virus (HPV) is known to cause several types of cancer, including carcinomas of the cervix, anus, penis, and throat. By preventing HPV infection, the HPV vaccine can stave off several types of cancer. You might think that Americans would be signing up in droves to have their children vaccinated against cancer. You'd be wrong.