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An HPV cancer prevention, peer-to-peer intervention for college students

Social Media Toolkit

Tigers VAX NOW HPV Vaccination Student Ambassador Program

Tigers VAX NOW HPV Vaccination Student Ambassador Program aims to enhance public understanding of human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV cancers; increase HPV vaccination coverage among University of Memphis students; dispel widely held myths about the virus; and normalize HPV vaccination as a powerful tool for HPV cancer prevention.

Your role as an ambassador helps empower your peers to choose to protect themselves from a preventable disease, an invaluable effort that can save lives. We extend gratitude for your unyielding commitment to HPV cancer prevention among your peers.

Below, you will find information, resources, and social media content to be used throughout the campaign. We recommend sharing social media content on a regular basis, such as one time each day or three times a week.

Your future, your decision: Choose to protect yourself against HPV and HPV cancers

Taking control of your health is essential to a life lived well. The program’s theme, “Your Future, Your Decision: Choose to Protect Yourself Against HPV and HPV Cancers” encourages college students, who may be new to making decisions about their own healthcare, to act now and protect their futures by preventing HPV and HPV cancers.

Ongoing studies continue to show the importance of on-time HPV vaccination. HPV vaccination has been routinely recommended since 2006 in the United States, following extensive and ongoing safety testing, to prevent HPV cancers. College students may still be covered by a parent’s insurance, for example, or may have their own insurance. And HPV vaccination can be given at the same time as other routine vaccinations. If a college student does not have insurance, they may qualify for assistance programs.

HPV vaccination is safe and effective and provides long-lasting protection for a lifetime of HPV cancers.

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Key messages

The following are key messages to keep in mind as you communicate with peers:

  • HPV is an extremely common virus in everyone — both women and men—that can cause cervical, vaginal, anal, penile, oral and throat cancers in adults. HPV also causes genital warts, pre-cancers of the cervix, and other HPV diseases.
  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection among United States-based college students. HPV is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it.
  • HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. The vaccine is safe and effective and prevents 90% of cancers caused by HPV.
  • HPV vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 9 to 26 years and for some people aged 27 to 45 years. The vaccination series is a recommended three-dose schedule for individuals aged 15 years and over. 
  • College students can get vaccinated for low or no cost at local health centers, healthcare provider’s office, regional health clinics (including federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics), and some pharmacies.
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HPV information

What is HPV?

HPV is an extremely common virus in everyone—both women and men—that can cause cervical, oral and throat, anal, vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancers in adults. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection among college students in the United States. HPV is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it. 

What can HPV cause?

Every year in the United States, HPV is estimated to cause nearly 37,000 cases of cancer in men and women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021c, 2021e, 2022). In addition, there are more than 200,000 cases of pre-cancer of the cervix, more than 500,000 cases of genital warts, and more than 1,000 cases of pediatric recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) each year in the United States. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within 2 years. But sometimes, HPV infections will last longer and can cause certain types of cancers.

HPV infections can cause multiple types of cancers among men and women including:

  • Women – cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer
  • Men – penile
  • Men and women – anal, back of the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharyngeal)

There is no way to know in whom HPV will lead to health problems, such as genital warts and cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021e, 2022). People with weakened immune systems may be less likely to be able to fight off HPV infection and more likely to develop health problems, such as people living with HIV/AIDS. Cancer often takes a very long time to develop after someone gets HPV.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has had sex can get HPV, even if it was only with one person, but infections are more likely in people who have had many sex partners. Even if a person delays sexual activity until marriage, or only has one partner, they are still at risk of HPV infection if their partner has been exposed.

Training Objectives

The objectives of the Tigers VAX NOW HPV Vaccination Student Ambassador Program are to: 

  • Train student ambassadors to communicate with peers on campus about the importance of HPV vaccination as cancer prevention.
  • Provide college student ambassadors with opportunities to engage with various organizations, health and science courses, and campus administration.

Tools and Resources

Resources and tools for use, reference, and/or distribution include: 

  • Your Future, Your Decision Flyers: impactful visuals and high-level HPV information to use for spreading awareness.
  • HPV College Student Fact Sheet: in-depth information and key data points on HPV.
  • Social media resources  that elevate awareness of the dangers of HPV pre-cancers and cancers.
  • 6 Reasons to Get Vaccinated Against HPV: information and logistics on HPV disease and protection, encouraging vaccination.
  • HPV FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions): prevalent questions individuals ask when seeking more information on HPV disease and vaccination.

Tips for Success

  • Be a trusted voice. Share proven, credible information from St. Jude and other reputable sources.
  • Make it your own. This toolkit shares sample messaging and social posts, but feel free to put it in your voice, in a way that sounds authentic to you.
  • Post regularly. Sharing something new and interesting—whether a fun fact, local event, or national observance—every week or two can help spread the word and remind your friends and classmates about the important choice they can make to protect themselves through HPV vaccination.
  • Have fun. While HPV and HPV cancers are serious, being an ambassador doesn’t have to be! Feel free to be creative in telling the story of why your peers should make the decision to vaccinate!
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