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Ask the Expert: How do we protect ourselves from HPV-related cancers?

Family medicine experts are launching a new campaign to protect young people against a dangerous virus. (WKRC)

FORT THOMAS, Ky. (WKRC) - Family medicine experts are launching a new campaign to protect young people against a dangerous virus.

The team at St. Elizabeth Healthcare is stepping up to support a national effort to help parents and young people learn more about protecting themselves against HPV, or the human papillomavirus.

Dr. Robert Tracy is a physician on a mission.

"What really got us started was when we found out that Kentucky leads the nation in HPV-related cancers," said Dr. Tracy.

With the help of a vaccine, which protects against the virus that causes HPV-related cancers, he wants to bring those numbers down.

"It's passed from skin-to-skin contact, and it can cause cervical cancer in women and is now found to cause throat cancers, penile cancers and anal cancers in men and women," he said.

He's getting a lot of support, especially from parents like Kelly Guigudly. These parents are doing their own research and supporting Dr. Tracy's suggestion to get the HPV vaccine.

"It just seems like it's a good idea to vaccinate him, just as a preventative measure in the future," Guigudly said.

She says Landon is an active athlete who loves to play soccer and basketball, and she wants to keep him healthy.

"The earlier we give it, the better the immune response is. So we're now trying to target kids at around 11 years of age," said Dr. Tracy.

Part of the reason this may be tough to talk about is there seems to be some controversy online and on social media about the vaccine. Dr. Tracy addressed some of those concerns:

For example, he says it doesn't encourage kids to be more sexually active, and it is actually effective.

"In fact, there's some studies out of Australia where they have actually reduced the rate of cervical and HPV-related cancers by greater than 60 percent," he said.

You can get the vaccine at your doctor's office or at the pharmacy. And, with most insurance companies, there's no copay for the vaccine.

Click here to learn more.

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