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Some demographics are more hesitant about the HPV vaccine than others

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Efforts to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and encourage people to utilize STD testing services are only effective if people educate themselves and are proactive about fighting back against these infections. For example, in the past few years, scientists have developed a vaccine to protect young people - particularly women - from contracting the human papillomavirus, but many parents have been hesitant about allowing their children to get this shot.

Recently, Boston University School of Medicine researchers set out to explore parents' concerns and determine which demographics are most or least likely to get their children vaccinated.

"Approximately 33,000 Americans will get an HPV-related cancer each year, many of which can be prevented by vaccination," said the lead author Rebecca Perkins, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BUSM. "Solid communication between parents and providers is the key to improving HPV vaccination rates, which is what this study seeks to measure."

Discrepancies are clear
The researchers spoke to more than 30 pediatric and family medicine physicians and nurse practitioners and found that low-income and minority families are more likely to feel comfortable with HPV vaccination for their children than white, upper-middle class families.

They found that interviewed immigrants - particularly those from Latin America - were more comfortable with the HPV vaccine because they had experience with cervical cancer and diseases that can be prevented with shots in their home countries.

In the past, research has shown that some parents believe that the HPV vaccine is unnecessary because they do not think that their children engage in sexual activity, which is how the virus is spread. According to this study, immigrant parents appeared to have more realistic assumptions about their teenagers' sexual habits than white middle-class parents.

More on the HPV vaccine
Studies have also shown that certain individuals were concerned that giving children the HPV vaccine would lead to them engaging in promiscuous sexual activities, since they would feel more protected against this sexually transmitted virus. However, The New York Times reported that a study conducted by researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Southeast found that there was no evidence that young girls who received this vaccine at a young age engaged in more sexual activity than those who did not get immunized.

It's important for parents to read all of the research on the HPV vaccine and other STD prevention methods, so they can encourage their children to make the right decisions.

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