Prevention of the most common sexually transmitted infection is becoming a priority at Morehead State.

MSU’s counseling and health services is working alongside the Kentucky cancer program to spread awareness on HPV, an STI that infects more than three million Americans a year, to urge students to get vaccinated.  

“We are really focusing on actually looking where the students are at and looking where people are going to see to get this out there,” said Lakyn Newcomb, the patient services coordinator and administrative support for MSU’s clinic. 

HPV, an incurable disease once infected, can eventually cause cancer in several areas which makes it critical for people to receive a vaccination that prevents the spread and its related cancers. 

“Our main goal for this is while we want to promote people to get the vaccine, we're really looking at prevention, so they don’t have to be afraid of it,” said Newcomb. “If we can target it before it becomes a fear then they’ve got this little walkway to get help for it.”

Kentucky had one of the highest rates of HPV related cancer cases with 17 out of 1000 cases a year. The national rate is only 12 per 1000. 

“Since we know there is a high rate of HPV related cancers in Kentucky, we felt like this outreach was necessary to protect college age students and young people from those cancers,” said Angela Combs, the regional cancer control specialist from the Kentucky cancer program.

Combs said that eighty-five percent of people will get HPV, a preventable disease through vaccination, in their lifetime. The preventable nature of the disease makes it important for students, regardless of their sexual activity, to consider getting the vaccine. 

“I think it’s best college students know is that it’s best if you get vaccinated before you ever even have sex.” said Combs.

The partnership between Combs and the university began in July with Newcomb serving on the district cancer council. Awareness on campus will take form in posters, yard signs and presentations about HPV and the benefits of vaccination.

“We know that there are a percentage of students out there who haven't received a vaccine and we just want to educate them that there is still time to get it,” said Combs.

Students interested in receiving the vaccine can go to the clinic at Allie Young Hall during normal business hours.