More patient education and physician training is needed to increase the use of the HPV vaccine in boys and girls, according to a Roswell Park Cancer Institute study.
In interviews with 52 clinicians and a survey of 54 parents, parents expressed the need for more information about HPV-related diseases, vaccines, safety, sexual concerns and countering misinformation in social media. Physicians highlighted a need for more education about the importance of HPV vaccination, training on how to effectively communicate a clear recommendation, and ways to optimize office systems to support vaccinations.
HPV is a group of viruses transmitted by skin-to-skin contact during sex. Most of the millions of people annually infected with the human papillomavirus may never know it because the body’s immune system usually clears the infection. But some strains of the virus are linked to genital warts and cancer.
The virus causes most cervical cancer, as well as some oral, anal, vulvar, vaginal and penile cancers. For cervical cancer alone, the American Cancer Society predicts more than 12,990 new cases and 4,120 deaths this year in the United States. Yet fewer than 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys receive the recommended HPV vaccine series.
“Many HPV-related cancers are preventable with the HPV vaccine, which is a safe and effective vaccine,” senior author Dr. Martin Mahoney, professor of oncology in the Department of Medicine, said in a statement.
The study in the Journal of Cancer Education also identified common misperceptions about the vaccine, including claims that it contributes to sexual promiscuity. The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Cancer Institute.