The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It’s so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
HPV can cause cancer, can take years to develop, and can be shared even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms, which is why it’s a big problem.
A vaccine that prevents cancerous strains of HPV was approved in the last decade, and the CDC recommends that all children should be vaccinated by the time they reach 11 or 12 years old, and can receive the vaccination through age 26 if they did not receive it when they were younger.
The CDC released a report last week that surveyed vaccination rates in every state for this vaccine.
Maine’s results? About 43 percent of girls between 13 and 17 have received it, and 27.5 percent of boys.
That’s slightly worse than New England’s average (48.5 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys) but much better than the national average (39.7 percent of girls and 21.6 percent of boys.)
The U.S. Government has set a goal to increase the HPV vaccination rate of girls 13-15 to 80 percent by the year 2020.
The thing about sexually transmitted infections, unlike other diseases where they are spread by simply being near someone who is infected, is that you can break the the cycle of infections by just vaccinating one partner who is infected.
The news site FiveThirtyEight did an analysis of how likely a heterosexual teen couple had at least one partner who was vaccinated in each state. In Maine a random couple had a 58.7 percent chance of at least one vaccinated partner, ranking us as the 11th in the country, the site said.