Human papillomavirus, more commonly called HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting about 1 in 4 Americans. The HPV virus can cause cervical cancer, of which West Virginia has the highest incidence rate in the country.
"We are holding the HPV summit today because we have a vaccine that can prevent cancer – this is a wonderful development that we have that we can use to really keep our communities healthy," said Elaine Darling, Program Manager for the West Virginia Immunization Network.
"And yet only about 40 percent of females in West Virginia ages 13-17 have received the vaccine, and when you look at males it’s even lower at 24 percent. And yet we can prevent cancer among them, but we are just not reaching as many people as we should."
The summit included representatives from more than 45 organizations, such as state agencies, insurers, schools and faith communities.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.