THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Low HPV coverage may be result of poor education, financing programs

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch recently published a study that found low rates of human papillomavirus vaccination and suggest that patient education and vaccine financing programs be improved.

The researchers referred to the vaccination trends as startling after examining a series of three separate studies published in Vaccine, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics and Cancer. The study determined that lack of awareness and understanding about the vaccine were the biggest hindrances for vaccination, MedicalXpress.com reports.

"This is the first generation with the opportunity to be vaccinated against the devastating cancers associated with HPV, but the majority are missing the opportunity," Abbey Berenson, the lead author of the study, said, according to MedicalXpress.com. "We cannot overstate the public health importance of vaccinating girls and boys. The HPV vaccine is one of the few proven ways to quickly and dramatically decrease our cancer burden."

Berenson's team used data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey to find that more than 75 percent of close to 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 26 did not receive the HPV vaccine. Another 10 percent did not receive the three full doses. Approximately two-thirds of the unvaccinated women said they did not want the vaccine, an attitude the researchers attributed to inadequate knowledge, negative beliefs about vaccines or a lack of physician recommendation.

Just two percent of males between the ages of nine and 17 started the vaccine series out of 3,000 surveyed and only 0.5 percent completed the three-dose series during 2010.

"These results underscore the critical need for better educational interventions and improved communication methods - for patients, parents and physicians - about the importance of initiating and completing the HPV vaccine to save our children from serious disease," Berenson said, MedicalXpress.com reports. "It is especially important to reach parents, who need to understand that this vaccine will help them do what all parents want most - protect their children from harm."

The researchers recommended improved educational interventions, new physician-patients communication methods such as text message and email, increased physician recommendations and public vaccine financing programs to improve completion rates and increase vaccine uptake.

Approximately 20 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HPV, the cause of close to all cases of cervical cancer and almost 90 percent of genital warts.

The researchers published their results in Vaccine, according to MedicalXpress.com.