OKLHAOMA CITY – The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is almost as common as the cold virus, according to the American Cancer Society. About 79 million people are currently infected with HPV in the United States, and about 14 million in the U.S. get a new HPV infection each year.

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and can lead to head and neck cancer, and it affects both women and men.

Now the American Cancer Society of Oklahoma, in partnership with Stephenson Cancer Center, is launching its first-ever statewide HPV Summit. It will be held Friday, Jan. 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Samis Education Center, 1200 Children’s Avenue in Oklahoma City. A handful of Cherokee residents is expected to attend.

“Our goal is to increase the HPV vaccination rate to 80 percent in the next few years,” said Lindsey Diel, health systems manager for ACSOK. “Currently, only 38 percent of our adolescents in Oklahoma have the completed the HPV vaccine series. So, we have some work to do.”

The summit features expert speakers who will educate and inspire those who play an influential role in HPV vaccination. It is intended for pediatric and primary care physicians, public health nurses, as well as other health care professionals and school-based health stakeholders.

“At ACS, we are attacking cancer from every angle, and HPV vaccination is cancer prevention,” Diel said. “It is important we get this message out and educate the public that an HPV vaccination at an early age is likely the best defense at preventing cancer.”

Register at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/first-annual-oklahoma-hpv-summit.

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