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Virginia doctor urges HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer

FILE - Photo of an exam room at a doctor's office. (7News/File)
FILE - Photo of an exam room at a doctor's office. (7News/File)
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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month and 7News On Your Side talked to an expert about ways to protect you and your children.

More than 95% of cervical cancer is caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus. It’s a common viral infection that attacks the reproductive system. More than 14,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year.

Dr. Amy Banulis with Kaiser Permanente told 7News Reporter Victoria Sanchez, there is a vaccine to prevent the infection before it becomes cancerous.

“It’s certainly a decision that parents and caregivers need to make and that we as physicians start having with families as early as age 9 to make sure that people feel comfortable with it,” she said.

“HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and when you hear that, as a parent and you have a 9-year-old, is there hesitancy for some parents? Saying that, ‘Well, my child isn’t going to be sexually active, so why do they need to get this vaccine?’” Sanchez asked.

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“When it first came out, we did talk about it in terms of, ‘Make sure to get it before your child becomes sexually active.’ And kind of really linked it to that risk. I think now, we really have reframed it to say, again, this is a cancer prevention vaccine,” Dr. Banulis explained.

Early protection is best. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the HPV vaccine can protect your child long before they ever have contact with the virus.

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Health officials recommend everyone through age 26 get the shot. Men and women up to age 45 can still get it but need to speak with a physician first.

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