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HPV vaccination campaign gets message out on MARTA buses, trains

7/25/2014, 7 a.m.
Ads urging parents and guardians to “Talk to Your Doctor About Vaccinating Your Sons and Daughters Against HPV” are now ...
Guarding against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, requires early vaccination. Georgia’s use of the vaccine is low.

Ads urging parents and guardians to “Talk to Your Doctor About Vaccinating Your Sons and Daughters Against HPV” are now appearing on dozens of MARTA buses, trains and bus shelters.

The CDC-funded advertising campaign, launched on July 21, seeks to raise awareness about the human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer.

It was designed by MARTA and the Georgia Department of Public Health, which worked with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and others to develop message. The message can be seen on 50 MARTA buses, 120 MARTA trains, and 20 MARTA bus shelters and is expected to be seen 12.7 million times.

Steven Mitchell, DPH director of immunizations, said the campaign has a singular goal: cancer prevention.

“It’s important that families know that vaccination against HPV works to prevent cervical cancer,” he said.

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death for American women. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that HPV infection is common in adult life, resulting in 12,000 cervical cancer cases among U.S. women each year.

Guarding against HPV requires early vaccination.

In June, DPH and the Georgia Cancer Control Consortium released “Our Collaborative Course of Action: Georgia’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan: 2013-2018,” which recommends that vaccination against HPV begin at 10 years of age.

Dr. Jean O’Connor, DPH’s director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, said parents have a lot to think about by the time their kids reach age 10 and HPV isn’t likely at the top of their minds.

“We’re hoping this campaign will change that,” O’Connor said.

Georgia’s use of the vaccine is low. O’Connor said that only 50 percent of females ages 13-17 received one of three doses in the vaccine series and only 29 percent completed the series in 2012. HPV immunization rates for adolescent males in Georgia are even lower.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/hpv.