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Should boys and girls receive the HPV vaccination?

ROANOKE, Va. – The human papillomavirus, known as HPV, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Nearly one in four Americans are infected.

Kristie Downs has two sons. She researched the subject and says the vaccination not only protects girls but her boys and that's what persuaded her to get her children vaccinated. 

“I feel like the cancer it can prevent in the future can far outweigh anything,”Downs says. “I trust the research and I trust my pediatrician.”

She's not the only mom who agrees with the historically controversial vaccination.

"Parents like to think the best of their kids and that they are never going to be exposed to something like this,” said Sandra Rhodes ,a mother of three. "If it's going to protect them from something in the future, we definitely want it."

Most people never have symptoms and the virus goes away on its own after two years. For others, the infection lasts longer and causes certain cancers and other diseases. Experts and health care providers urge parents to vaccinate boys and girls at the ages of 11 or 12. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention there are more than 29,000 cases of cancer that could have been prevented with HPV vaccination. That's the same as the average attendance at Major League Baseball games last season.

Dr. Victor Bell,a family physician and medical director at New Horizons Health Care, says the concerns about the vaccinations would not be recommended by public health officials if the risks were not justified by the protection they offered. 

Although doctors recommend getting the HPV vaccination in childhood, people are still eligible until the age of 26.