The sexually transmitted DNA virus, which can lead to numerous types of cancer, especially cervical cancer, is called human papillomavirus (HPV), and is totally preventable.

Unfortunately, many people don't know that. 

According to new data released by Planned Parenthood, 40 percent of parents surveyed don't know that the HPV vaccine could play a vital part in preventing cancer. This is unfortunate because each year, 14 million become infected with HPV, which is a collection of more than 150 related viruses. While many forms of HPV can go away on its own, 27 percent of HPV types can infect the genital areas of males and females, and it will persist and cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, or oral cancer. Also, in the U.S., Hispanic women have the highest cervical cancer incidence rates when compared to non-whites, and the group has lower rates of cervical cancer screening.

The CDC reported that only 37.6 percent of girls and 13.9 percent of boys aged 13-17 received all three recommended doses of the HPV vaccine. And there are numerous reasons for this, including vaccinations being a hot button issue and a lack HPV education. According to the Planned Parenthood report, nearly a third of surveyed individuals said they didn't know about the vaccine. Also, 70.7 percent listed safety concerns as the leading cause for not vaccinating, while 34.2 reported that their child was not yet sexually active for reason.

"Parents need to understand that the HPV vaccine can prevent cancer," said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a press release. "This survey shows that 40 percent of parents are not aware that HPV can cause cancer or that the HPV vaccine can prevent cancer. Over half did not know that HPV can cause cancer in boys and men, as well as girls and women. As parents, we feel a responsibility to keep our children safe and healthy. The HPV vaccine is currently one of only two vaccines available capable of preventing certain types of cancer, so it's important that parents make the decision to vaccinate." 

Nearly a third of parents don't know that HPV can cause cervical cancer and a third are unaware that the vaccine can protect against cervical cancer. Also, nearly a third of parents didn't know that HPV could be contracted during sex, and 48.2 percent didn't know that it could cause cancer in boys and men. In addition to that, only 14.5 percent of children receive the vaccine at the age of 12 or under, when it is most effective. 

 "There is clearly a huge lack of public understanding," said Kantor. "Despite being one of the most important public health advances in recent years, this survey shows that a substantial number of parents still don't understand that children should be vaccinated years before they're sexually active.

"Unfortunately, we've seen incredibly harmful misinformation on vaccines in this country that have led to unnecessary worries for parents. The fact is that we have many studies showing that there is no link between the HPV vaccine and increased sexual activity, yet it continues to be an unfounded concern for some parents. The more accurate information parents have about the safety and benefits of the HPV vaccine, the better protected our children will be from HPV-related cancers." 

Since 2011, Planned Parenthood has acted as a HPV provider and educator, offering vaccines to thousands each year. Some important bits of info they share includes: the HPV vaccine is one of best ways to prevent HPV. It can be administered to 11 and 12 years old before they begin have sex, and its recommended to anyone aged 9-26. Nine years after the vaccine was introduced, and HPV-related cancers has dropped, and HPV declined 56 percent for teen girls.