Northeast Georgia Medical Center file photo

Northeast Georgia Medical Center is celebrating a recent award from the American Cancer Society, which recognizes the hospital’s efforts in preventing human papillomavirus, or HPV, related cancers.

NGMC was one of only three hospitals in Georgia and 24 hospital systems in the Southeast to receive the American Cancer Society’s HPV Cancer Free Partnership Award for 2019.

As part of the award, Northeast Georgia Medical Center receives funding specifically designated to support evidence-based interventions aimed at preventing HPV-related cancers.

“We’re honored to be recognized by the American Cancer Society as a leader in HPV prevention efforts and excited to partner together to better educate those in our community,” said Jayme Carrico, executive director of Oncology Services for NGMC.

The HPV Partnership Award is given to hospital systems that embrace the American Cancer Society’s Mission HPV Cancer Free campaign and that are currently working with the American Cancer Society to develop and implement prevention and awareness initiatives for HPV-related cancers.

While it’s important for the American Cancer Society to have hospitals participate in the campaign, Carrico said the partnership also benefits NGMC.

“Through funding from this partnership, we’ve been able to reach areas of our community most at-risk,” Carrico said. “By collaborating with Good News Clinics, which provides free medical care to uninsured patients, Northeast Georgia Medical Center has hosted three HPV prevention and educational programs so far in 2019, with more to come. Additionally, we’ve been able to help reduce barriers for women in our community in need of cervical cancer screenings — particularly those who have rarely or never been screened.”

About 14 million people, including teens, are infected with HPV each year, and an estimated 80% of people will get HPV during their lifetime, NGMC said.

While most HPV infections clear up on their own without long term health problems, there’s no way to know if an infection will lead to cancer. HPV infection is known to cause six different types of cancer: cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile and throat cancers.

Approximately 31,500 men and women each year are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, NGMC said. While there is no current treatment available for HPV infection, vaccination and screening can help prevent most HPV-related cancers.

The American Cancer Society recommends boys and girls ages 11 to 12 receive the two-shot HPV vaccine series. HPV vaccination prevents an estimated 90% of HPV cancers when given at the recommended age, but cancer protection decreases as age at vaccination increases.

“The American Cancer Society is determined to protect the future of every boy and girl by preventing six types of cancer with the HPV vaccine,” said Debbie Saslow, senior director of HPV and women’s cancers for the American Cancer Society. “We have a historic opportunity, and all we have to do is make sure the children in our lives are vaccinated and the women in our lives are screened.”

For more information about HPV-related cancers and the American Cancer Society’s work to reduce them, visit cancer.org/HPV.

Crime Reporter

Isabel is a crime and health reporter for the Gwinnett Daily Post. She graduated from Emory University in 2016 with a B.A. in international studies. She is originally from the Boston area.