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Impact Story

American Cancer Society: HPV Cancer Free Learning Collaborative

An HPV Free SC

The HPV Quality Improvement Learning Collaborative has increased Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination rates throughout South Carolina. They have achieved this by working with clinics to apply evidence-based practices and quality improvement processes to reduce missed opportunities for HPV vaccination. This project serves all 9-12 year-olds as both boys and girls should get two doses of the HPV vaccine series. Once children are 13 or older, three doses are needed. The HPV vaccine series can be started as early as age 9 and is recommended when children are 11 to 12 years old because fewer doses are required. Clinic improvements included better data tracking and follow-up services to ensure the vaccination series is completed on time. 

About the Organization

The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. 

About the Grant

The HPV Cancer Free Learning Collaborative aims to improve clinical processes to increase Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination rates of 9-12 year-olds served by South Carolina’s federally qualified health centers (FQHC) to ultimately decrease the occurrence and mortality of cancers associated with HPV. The Learning Collaborative worked with eight FQHCs in rural areas of South Carolina, where data suggest patients receive less preventive medical care over their lifetimes. Special focus was given to engaging FQHCs in the Pee Dee area due to the region having the highest cervical cancer mortality rate in the state. HPV Vaccination Boot Camps were held at the FQHCs, followed by monthly learning collaborative calls and ongoing technical assistance. FQHCs across South Carolina were able to learn from one another, what did and did not work for their patients, to improve operations and increase vaccination completion rates.  


Why it was Funded

The HPV vaccine prevents six cancers, with cervical cancer being the most prevalent. By improving statewide vaccination rates, there will be fewer cases of HPV-related cancers, resulting in lower health care costs for cancer treatment. South Carolina is ranked 35th in the nation by the CDC for HPV vaccination completion, with only 49.5 percent of eligible patients completing the recommended two-dose series.

At participating FQHCs, HPV vaccination completion rates increased by an average of 17 percent.

Project Results

The American Cancer Society estimates it will affect 40,000 9-12 year-old patients as a result of the Collaborative by increasing vaccine completion rates. Tandem Health Center in Sumter, South Carolina, increased vaccination completion rates by 76 percent and received national recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention their efforts. 

Ongoing Support

The practice changes made as a result of participating in the learning collaborative continue at each of the participating FQHCs. The American Cancer Society continues to look for new ways to implement the learning collaborative model to address improvements in cancer prevention throughout South Carolina.