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No parental consent necessary: 12 and over can get HPV vaccine in California

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

STD prevention vaccine more accessible

Earlier this week, the governor of California signed a law that made the HPV vaccine accessible to children 12 and older without parental consent. Learn the details of this new law, as well as info on HPV and the vaccines available to prevent it.

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Are you trying to determine whether your child should have the HPV vaccine? If you live in California, that decision might be taken out of your hands. Many children will be able to have the HPV vaccine without parental consent -- or knowledge -- beginning January 1, 2012.

New HPV vaccination law

California governor Jerry Brown signed the law on Sunday, allowing children who are 12 years old and above to receive an HPV vaccine without obtaining parental consent.

Medscape reports that several large medical organizations backed the law, including the California Medical Association, the state chapters of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), and the California Nurses Association.

While many medical organizations favored the law, several conservative groups, including The California Catholic Conference and the California Right to Life Committee, were very displeased.

Although some people are questioning the new law, citing the need for parental consent for other medical procedures, several have pointed out that California allows minors to consent to many medical procedures and tests without obtaining their parents' permission. For example, according to Medscape, minors can be tested and receive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases -- including HVP -- on their own. They can also receive birth control, pregnancy tests, prenatal care and abortions.

It has also been noted that there are many states, as well as the District of Columbia, that allow minors to receive an HPV vaccine without parental consent. California hasn't passed a groundbreaking law.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus, commonly called HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. In fact, at any given time, 20 million people are infected with HPV, which spreads through sexual contact. While the CDC states that there are over 40 strains of HPV, most people who are infected with HPV don't even know it.

A person's body clears HPV on its own in over 90% of cases within two years of infection. However, when the infection doesn't clear, it can cause genital wards, cervical cancer and other cancer, including vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal caner and more.

The HPV vaccine

Cervarix and Gardasil are the two vaccines that girls and women can obtain to protect against the strains of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. Gardasil prevents most genital warts and it has been shown to prevent other strains of cancer caused by HPV. Gardasil has also been shown to protect against genital warts and anal cancer in boys.

>> Tell us: Do you agree with the new California law allowing children 12 years old and older to obtain the HPV vaccine without parental consent? Vote in our poll above and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

More on HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
HPV vaccines: What you don't know
Protecting your daughters: The pros and cons of the HPV vaccine

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