University of California Irvine (UC Irvine) public health honors student leads a research project focused on issues related to HPV vaccine uptake among high school students in Orange County, California. The article, titled “Factors Correlating Perceptions of HPV and Vaccine Uptake among High School Students” was recently published in the California Journal of Health Promotion.
With a projected 14 million new cases each year, and 79 million infected, human papillomavirus (HPV) has become a growing health concern. HPV has been linked to a wide range of health complications, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, and anogenital warts. There are currently two HPV vaccines available which protect against chronic HPV infection by genotypes that cause most cervical cancers (HPV 16 and 18). Although effective vaccines are available, the HPV vaccine initiation and completion rates are 33 percent for girls and nearly 7 percent for boys. Low uptake may be associated with a lack of knowledge among adolescent children and their parents.
In the article, we investigated adolescents’ knowledge and interest in the HPV vaccine, as well as the role of the physician in HPV vaccine uptake of their patients. Less than one third of all students reported their physician had discussed HPV vaccine with them, and fewer still for males (p<0.01). Students who did discuss HPV vaccination with their physician were significantly more likely to get vaccinated (p<0.01).
Our results suggest merit of the physician taking on a more active role to promote HPV vaccine among high school youth. The adolescent population’s tendency to participate in risky behavior has made them the center of HPV education campaigns. A rise in HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge in this group will be a major step in the fight against HPV related health complications.
All manuscript authors are from the UC Irvine Program in Public Health and include Ms. Parastou Khalessi Dr. Brandon Brown, Dr. Cynthia Lakon, and Ms. Karen Munoz.