Most Young, Black Females Are Not Getting HPV Vaccine

WEDNESDAY Feb. 4, 2009 -- The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which helps cut a sexual active female's risk of cervical cancer, is viewed positively by its target audience in the black community, even though few are actually getting the shots, a new survey says.

Only one in four eligible black adolescents has received the vaccine, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health, which is behind funding to find ways to increase HPV vaccination rates among high-risk populations. The results of the survey were to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Carefree, Ariz.

Since being approved for use in mid-2006 as Gardasil, the HPV vaccine has been surrounded by controversy over whether it should be mandatory, its effectiveness, its potential side effects and whether inoculation would encourage adolescents to have sex.

Many of the 71 young people surveyed, most of whom were black, were aware of the controversies but thought the vaccine was "safe," "effective" and a "wise choice."

"The consensus among those surveyed in our study was that it would be a good, beneficial option," Dr. Ian Frank, professor of medicine in the Infectious Diseases Division of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a news release issued by the conference sponsor.

Almost 44 percent of those who were not vaccinated said they were very likely or likely to do so soon, the survey found.

In addition, 45 caregivers who were surveyed agreed that the vaccine was "safe," "effective" and a "wise choice," but most of them said they didn't remember the HPV vaccine being mentioned by their health-care provider.

"Many of these caregivers, most of whom were women, reported feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of raising an adolescent girl, but they wanted to protect their daughters from health and emotional risks," Frank said.

"This suggests they would respond positively to an increased effort to inoculate," he said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the HPV vaccine for women.

Posted: February 2009


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