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Duke Medicine: Many girls missing out on benefits of HPV vaccine

About half of girls are receiving the HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer. Find out more about the vaccine, what it prevents and how it's given.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

The HPV vaccine was in the news last week when a government medical panel recommended the shot, designed originally for girls, also be given to boys.

The vaccine protects girls against cervical cancer later in life. For boys, the vaccine can prevent genital warts and anal cancer. It can also help prevent the spread of the human papilloma virus through sex, according to an Associated Press article about the recent recommendation and some of the controversy surrounding the vaccine. Click here to read more.
I spoke with Dr. Madhvi M Thakkar of North Hills Internal Medicine before last week's recommendation about the HPV vaccine. North Hills Internal Medicine in Raleigh is part of Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor.

The HPV vaccine has been on the market for about five years now. But Thakkar tells me that only about 50 percent of girls have received it. It's designed for ages 9 to 26, though most pediatricians recommend it when children reach 11 or 12 years. It's best if the vaccine is given before girls become sexually active.

"This is something that can be simple enough and you can protect your young daughter for cervical cancer," Thakkar tells me. "We have a lot of work to do."

For more about what the vaccine is, what it prevents and how it's given, watch my interview with Dr. Thakkar. And check back next Wednesday for more about the vaccination for boys.

North Hills Internal Medicine is in Raleigh. Duke Medicine also offers health tips and advice here every Tuesday.

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