Less HPV Infections Mean Healthier Communities of Color
Human papillomavirus (or HPV) causes several types of cancers, and some communities of color have higher rates of these cancers.
This month is National Minority Health Month¹, and CDC would like to inform communities of color as well as partners, healthcare professionals, and others who serve them about how HPV vaccine can protect against cancers caused by HPV infection, protecting communities of color from these often devastating cancers.
HPV is a very common and widespread virus. Nearly everyone will be infected in their lifetime. In most cases, HPV infections go away on their own and do not cause any health problems. But when HPV infections do not go away, they can cause cancer.
Cancers caused by HPV infection include cervical cancer, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, and anus. HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx). Cancer can take years, even decades, to develop after a person gets an HPV infection. While cervical cancer can be detected through screening, there is no routine scre ening for other cancers caused by HPV infection. To learn more about HPV and the types of cancers it causes, visit the Link Between HPV and Cancer.
How Cancers Caused by HPV Affect Communities of Color
Every year in the United States, an estimated 17,600 women and 9,300 men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV.
- Black men have higher rates of anal cancer than white men.
- Hispanic men have higher rates of penile cancer than non-Hispanic men.
- Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander women are often diagnosed with cervical cancer at a later stage than White women2 which makes the cancer more difficult to treat.
- Although Hispanic women have the highest rates of getting cervical cancer, Black women have the highest rates of dying of cervical cancer.3
- Black women also have higher rates of vaginal cancer than women of other races.4
You Can Prevent Cancers Caused by HPV
It's true! You can prevent HPV cancers. HPV vaccination can prevent infection with the HPV types that most commonly cause these cancers. HPV vaccination can decrease the risk of developing a cancer caused by HPV and help improve the health of both men and women across the country in all racial/ethnic groups. This is why CDC recommends that all preteen boys and girls (age 11 or 12) get the HPV vaccine series before age 13 to protect against cancers and pre-cancers.
Why ages 11 or 12? HPV vaccine works best when it is given at the recommended ages of 11 or 12. If your teen did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger, talk to their doctor or nurse about getting it for them as soon as possible. Girls and women are recommended to get HPV vaccine through age 26, and boys and men through age 21. HPV vaccination is also recommended for gay and bisexual young men (or any young man who has sex with men) through age 26 and young men with weakened immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger.
For more information about who should get the HPV vaccine visit Questions and Answers about HPV.
While many HPV infections can be prevented through vaccination, early cervical cancer detection through screening is critical in reducing this cancer caused by HPV. To learn more about cervical cancer screening, including when you should be screened, visit HPV Cancer Screening.
Protect Yourself, Your Children, Your Community
Educate yourself, your family, and your community on how to protect against cancers caused by HPV and about HPV vaccine. Get screened for cervical cancer and ask your child's doctor about HPV vaccine. Visit CDC's HPV website to learn more.
- OMH's National Minority Health Month
- Freeman HP, Wingrove BK. Excess Cervical Cancer Mortality: A Marker for Low Access to Health Care in Poor Communities. Rockville, MD: National Cancer Institute, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, May 2005. NIH Pub. No. 05-5282.
- U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2012 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; 2015..
- McCarthy, Anne Marie et al. "Racial/ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Mortality among Women Diagnosed with Cervical Cancer in New York City, 1995–2006." Cancer causes & control: CCC 21.10 (2010): 1645–1655. PMC