South Carolina is being commended for making strides on at least one health care issue.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported most states are making only minimal gains in vaccinating teenagers against Human papillomavirus – the sexually transmitted, cancer-linked virus commonly called HPV. The Charleston Post and Courier reports that the agency considers South Carolina to be among the few exceptions.
Nationally, states averaged a 3.5 percent increase in vaccination coverage among teens between 2012-2013. But a National Center of Immunization and Respiratory Diseases spokesperson told reporters in a July conference call that South Carolina had an 18.5 percent increase in coverage.
The CDC estimates there are 14 million new HPV infections every year. The Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center estimate that only half of teenage girls ages 13-17 have received all three doses of the HPV vaccine in South Carolina. HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted disease and does not by itself cause health problems for most people. However, it severely increases the risk of cervical cancer in women and other types of cancer in men.
A majority of legislators supported a bill in 2012 that would have made the HPV vaccine available to any rising seventh-grader in South Carolina, but Gov. Nikki Haley said the decision should be up to parents and vetoed the measure. Her veto was upheld by the state House of Representatives. Opponents say they are concerned about the vaccine’s potential side effects and that it encourages teen sexual promiscuity.