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Not enough patients receive HPV vaccines

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

According to a recent survey published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, not enough doctors are following the official guidelines for administering human papillomavirus vaccinations and screening for cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are meant to be given to women between the ages of 11 and 26 and help to prevent cervical cancer.

The survey, which received 366 responses from obstetricians and gynecologists, revealed that less than 33 percent of those surveyed vaccinate patients who fit the criteria against HPV and only 50 percent adhere to cervical cancer prevention guidelines.

National guidelines, as issued by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2009, suggest that annual cervical cancer screenings begin at age 21 before slowly tapering the amount of times patients get screened every year. However, the survey suggests that it may be patients, not doctors, who are not following the guidelines.

About 90 percent of those surveyed said that they offered an HPV vaccination to patients, but only 27 percent of the patients accepted it. The respondents referenced patients and parents as the primary block to an HPV vaccination.

"In the current survey and others, providers stated that the largest barrier to HPV vaccination was patients and parents declining to receive the vaccine," said Rebecca Perkins, lead investigator. "However, studies indicate that most patients support HPV vaccination, and that a strong physician recommendation is the most important determinant of vaccine uptake in young women."

STD testing and screening
HPV is transmitted via sexual activity, and according to the CDC, it is so common that nearly everyone who is sexually active will contract it at some point in their lives. While about 90 percent of cases disappear on their own and many people don't even show symptoms, HPV can occasionally lead to serious medical problems, such as genital warts, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis - where warts grow inside of the throat - cervical cancer and other serious cancers.

The source noted that anyone who has had sex is at risk for HPV, even those who have only had sexual contact with one person. In a handful of cases, mothers with the infection have transferred HPV to their children.

STD tests and screenings are important for diagnosing and treating diseases and infections early in order to prevent them from evolving into more serious conditions.

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