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The HPV vaccine is a fantastic drug that prevents everything from cervical cancer in women to dick cancer in men. But a new study from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has found that vaccination rates for American teenagers is still tragically low.

Just 29 percent of 13-year-olds in the US have received the first round of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, based on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s numbers. The vaccine is ideally given in three different jabs over the course of six months. And according to the CDC, only 43 percent of American teens are up-to-date on the HPV vaccine.

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Why is the vaccine important? Each year, roughly 31,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancers that are related to HPV, the most common sexually-transmitted virus in the country. And yes, that includes people getting cervical cancer, oral cancers, and penile cancer.

In severe cases of penile cancer, some or all of the penis is removed, which—speaking selfishly as a selfish man who can’t help but selfishly wince while writing this selfish sentence—is perhaps the best reason I’ve ever heard for getting the HPV vaccine. And that’s to say nothing of all the unselfish reasons a man might get the vaccine.

“It’s important for 12 and 13-year-olds to get the HPV vaccine to provide immunity so that when they may be exposed to HPV later in life, typically through sexual activity, they have protection,” Dr. Margaret Stager, from the Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland told NPR.

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Part of the low vaccination rates for HPV in the US relate directly to the country’s backwards thinking about sex. When the HPV vaccine was first introduced in 2006 after FDA approval, it was common for conservatives to claim that giving kids the HPV vaccine would cause sexual promiscuity. This, of course, is bullshit. In reality, teens in 2018 are having less sex than ever. But that conservative narrative still continues today.

If you’re in your 20s and still haven’t gotten the HPV vaccine it’s less effective than being administered in youth, but is still worth your time. Again, there’s no good reason to avoid the HPV vaccine. Especially if you like your penis.

[NPR]

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