You, Me & HPV

By: Hamza Ali, Emma Paine, Erin Spillane, Mishta Stanislaus, Taylor Moseley

600 million infections, 640 thousand new cancer cases, 1 poorly distributed vaccine; this public health crisis is about you, me, and HPV.

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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that infects 80% of sexually active adults by the time they reach the age of 45. It is the single most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer, as well as a significant proportion of several other types of cancers. Despite the development of an effective and safe vaccine against cancer-causing HPV infections, the virus continues to spread. Currently, only 51% of teenagers in the United States are fully vaccinated against HPV. This low vaccination rate can be attributed to information gaps and societal stigma surrounding HPV; negative perceptions of HPV are derived from grave misconceptions about the nature of the virus. This sentiment is heightened by the moral complexities of vaccinating adolescents against a sexually transmitted disease. Stigma has fostered a perception of HPV as taboo and has hindered open communication between physicians and patients, resulting in infrequent medical provider recommendations for HPV vaccination. Despite the adverse effects of HPV, few states have initiated HPV vaccine mandates. In the absence of public policy surrounding HPV vaccination, people are led to believe that this vaccine is not vital when, in fact, it saves lives. Our team aims to address sources of hesitancy and key barriers towards receiving the HPV vaccine. We look to do so by personalizing the doubts, fears, and struggles related to the virus and its vaccine by broadcasting stories and thoughts directly from impacted individuals. With our site, we hope to tackle dangerous misconceptions surrounding the HPV vaccine and open up conversation about the virus. In doing so, we aim to both reduce the incidence and stigma of HPV.

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