IUPUI launches initiative to promote HPV vaccination

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new initiative at IUPUI aims to educate students on the dangers of HPV, and encourage them to receive vaccinations.

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Currently, the CDC estimates roughly 79 million Americans carry the infection, which is so common that it’s said nearly everyone will get it at some point in their lives. HPV is often asymptomatic, but can cause genital warts and various cancers in the body.

CDC data also indicates that Indiana is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to vaccinating its residents.

“Many aren’t aware of the dangers of HPV or the dangers of not being vaccinated,” said M.D./MPH (Masters of Public Health) student Katheryn Hannaford.

Hannaford is leading the initiative which has seen a series of info-graphics and posters placed in more than 1,300 bathroom stalls across campus. Hannaford says bathroom stalls were chosen as the location for the posters due to their ability to create a “captive audience” for at least 30 seconds.

“We can get them to pay attention while they’re using the restroom,” Hannaford said.

As part of the initiative, IUPUI is offering free HPV vaccinations to all students under the age of 26. Because the vaccine requires three doses, students can opt to receive text messages when it’s time for their next dose. The program has been up and running for about a week. So far, health providers say they’re already seeing an impact.

“We’ve had plenty of students come in asking to get the vaccine, and plenty that aren’t really aware of what it does,” nurse practitioner Leesa Foley said.

Hannaford says ultimately the goal is to get as many students educated and vaccinated as possible. The initiative is planned to continue until the fall. If successful, Hannaford says she hopes to bring the program to other schools across the state and country.

“Our hope is that student move towards getting vaccinated for HPV, especially because they have a unique opportunity through this effort to get vaccinated at no out of pocket cost.”

For more information on the Initiative, you can visit here.