Research suggests cultural sensitivity needed to increase HPV vaccination

A new study suggests that increasing Human papillomavirus vaccine uptake rates among African-American women may require a change in approach that takes ethnic-specific barriers into account.

The Boston University School of Medicine research assessed the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices towards HPV vaccination among African-American and Haitian immigrant women and their daughters, according to

The study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Women's Health Issues, included a survey that measured perceived susceptibility to infection and the severity of cultural barriers and trust in doctors. The responses to the survey were then compared to medical records and vaccination uptake rates.

Despite results showing that both groups had high levels of trust in their physicians and with 75 percent of the participants saying they would vaccinate their daughters if their physician recommended it, fewer than half actually did so within the next year.

"This study addresses an important public health issue given the lower uptake of HPV vaccination among racial/ethnic minorities as compared to white women in the U.S.," Dr. Natalie Pierre-Joseph said, reports. "It also points out the importance of looking at the heterogeneity of the African- American population and tailoring preventive efforts to the specific sub-groups," she added.

HPV is the most common type of sexually transmitted infection, and there are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect both men and women. In women, the infection can cause cervical cancer. Black women in the United States have higher rates of cervical cancer and lower rates of HPV infection than white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.