AHEC HPV Immunization Project
Area Health Education Center
Area Health Education Center at Heritage College joins HPV Immunization Project
The Area Health Education Center at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is taking part in a nationwide effort, supported by funds awarded to the national AHEC Organization from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help increase awareness among health professionals about the risks of Human Papillomavirus and the value of early HPV vaccination in preventing cervical cancer.
According to the CDC, more than 12,000 women get cervical cancer every year, though it’s estimated that up to 93 percent of these cancers are preventable. HPV vaccination helps prevent infection with the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.
HPV is so common, the CDC says, that almost everyone will be infected with it at some point in their lives – though most will never know it. Exposure to HPV can occur with any type of intimate sexual contact. In the United States, HPV causes thousands of cancers in both men and women every year.
Vaccination of boys and girls aged 11 to 12 could prevent many of these cancers, but low HPV vaccination rates are leaving another generation of children at risk of HPV cancers. The CDC program now underway aims to get the word out to physicians and other health care professionals, to urge parents to have their children vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus. The message for parents, according to the CDC, is that by having their kids vaccinated they aren’t opening the door to sex – they’re closing the door to cancer.
The AHEC at the Heritage College is reaching out to area health care providers to offer seminars and educational resources to help boost local HPV vaccination rates. PJ Guthrie, R.N., B.S.N., education coordinator with the AHEC, explained that like the nation overall, Ohio is lagging behind where it should be on HPV vaccination rates.
To combat this problem, Guthrie and others at the Heritage College are working to publicize the importance of HPV vaccination for cancer prevention and to explain the rationale for vaccinating pre-teens. They hope to work with area health care providers to spread the word to parents about this important health issue.
Those who want more information or wish to schedule a one-hour seminar for their organization can contact PJ Guthrie at
The Heritage College-based AHEC is the Consortium for Health Education in Appalachia Ohio (CHEAO). Its mission is to improve the health of people in Appalachian Ohio by fostering academic and community collaboration, emphasizing primary care and focusing on underserved areas. The Heritage College is one of seven medical colleges in the Ohio Statewide AHEC program and it serves 21 Appalachian counties.
The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and around 60 percent practice in Ohio. CARE LEADS HERE.