The human papillomavirus (HPV) family causes a variety of benign, premalignant, and malignant lesions in men and women. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for causing 70% of all cases of cervical cancer each year. Recently, a vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer by protecting women from infection with the most common types of HPV has been made available. Following Food and Drug Administration approval and endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the right and the duty of the state legislatures to implement vaccination programs. This vaccine, a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease, has stirred a fierce debate. Religion and sexuality have dominated the discussion, and political calculations are inherent to the process; nonetheless, epidemiological analyses are also essential to the decision to mandate the HPV vaccine.
HPV vaccine program implementation processes are at many stages in many states, and programs vary widely. Some provide information to families, whereas others allot a range of funding for voluntary vaccination. Virginia is, thus far, the only state to have enacted a mandate. This article discusses the various programs in place, the proposed legislation, and the debate surrounding the political process.