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James Gaines explains: 4 epically wrong myths about the HPV vaccine.

America is a bit behind on the HPV vaccination trend. I'll explain why that's a problem.

Remember when I explained how polio isn't really a thing anymore in the U.S.?

A polio victim in 1947. Photo by Sonnee Gottlieb/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

That's because we invented and then distributed vaccines to as many people as possible. Today, polio's gone from a modern scourge to a hazy shadow, infecting fewer than three dozen people in 2015. And even with a recent set back in Nigeria, we're incredibly close to making polio a thing of the past.


Well, thanks to another vaccine, we might be able to drive another disease into the shadows, too.

HPV, also known as the human papillomavirus, is a big family of viruses that live in human beings. Some strains are relatively harmless, causing problems like common warts. Others, however, are much more serious.

Some strains of HPV can be spread through sexual contact and are known to cause several different kinds of cancer, including almost all cases of cervical cancer.  And these cancer-causing strains are incredibly common: About 14 million Americans catch them every year. HPV is basically the common cold of sexually transmitted infections.

10 years ago, however, we got a vaccine for HPV. And the latest numbers show it's been incredibly effective.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The vaccine, which is meant to be given to kids sometime between their pre-teen years and early 20s, specifically targets some of the strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer (from here on, I'm going to use "HPV" to specifically refer to these strains, by the way). Early tests on the vaccine showed a lot of promise, and this year those numbers have been seriously backed up.

Earlier this year, a worldwide study suggested an up to 90% drop in infection rates in countries with a high level of immunization.

They also showed an 85% drop in the kinds of pre-cancer signs associated with cervical cancer in those populations.

In the U.S., however, pickup on the HPV vaccine has been a little slow, possibly because of stigma and a few common misconceptions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, only about 50% of U.S. boys ages 13-17 and about 62% of girls got at least one round of the vaccine (it takes three shots, spaced a few months apart, to become completely immunized). This is great compared to other years — the numbers are rising — but compared to other countries, we're still a bit behind.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

What are some of those misconceptions?

1. "HPV isn't common enough to worry about."

Actually, we know that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Like I mentioned above, each year about 14 million people catch it and about 27,000 cases of HPV-caused cancer are diagnosed.

2. "Vaccines are risky."

Actually, we know that vaccines — including the HPV vaccine — are on the whole pretty damn safe.

3. "You only need the HPV vaccine if you're sexually active, so I don't need to give it to my kids."

It's true that people who've never been sexually active aren't really at risk of HPV, but immunizing a teenager can protect them well into their adult life. Plus, the best time to prevent infection is before they've ever been potentially exposed, so giving it to kids actually makes a lot of sense.

4. "It's only for girls. My son doesn't need it."

Boys can benefit from it too. While it's most well-known to cause cervical cancer, HPV can cause other kinds of cancer too as well as genital warts. Plus, by getting vaccinated, a man can protect any sexual partners he might have!

(This reluctance may also have a bit to do with the stigma surrounding the fact that HPV is an STI, too, but talking about STIs is an important part of sex education and something we shouldn't shy away from.)

We're on our way to putting HPV on the same bookshelf as other extinct diseases, like polio and smallpox.

A girl gets an HPV shot in Honduras. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images.

In an article by the BBC, professor Ian Frazer, one of the scientists who created the first HPV vaccine, was quoted as saying, "If we vaccinate enough people, we will eliminate these viruses."

A world without the single greatest cause of cervical cancer? And we get a whole lot of other cancers down at the same time?

Yeah, that sounds pretty great.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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Sacheen Littlefeather, who famously appeared in Marlon Brando's place at Oscars, has passed away

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Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather.

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This article originally appeared on 08.05.21


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