(ATHENS, Ohio—Aug. 3, 2015) The Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
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 (CDC), to help increase awareness among health
professionals about the risks of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 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. Vickey Haller, 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 progress is occurring, but at too slow a pace,”
Haller said. “We have found that many preteens and teens are not
getting HPV vaccine when they receive other recommended vaccines.
Often, they receive the first vaccine in the series, but fail to
complete the series of three, leaving them unprotected.”
To combat this problem, Haller 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 Haller 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
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.
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