Despite its reputation as a "strong weapon in prevention," the HPV vaccine may not be benefiting adolescent females equally, a new study has found.
According to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, African-American females between the ages of 12 and 17 were 35 percent less likely to receive a healthcare provider recommendation for the HPV vaccine, a disparity that researchers are keeping an eye on in helping to curb the 6 million new HPV infections each year.
"I work with adolescents all day, and it's very interesting in my practice, when we talked about the HPV vaccine, how many parents had not heard about it," says May Lau, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and one of the study authors. "I thought it would be very interesting to look at what is associated with people initiating the vaccine and who is actually getting these recommendations," she says.
Lau and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 16,000 adolescent females who partook in the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health and found that almost 20 percent initiated the HPV vaccine series. 84 percent of those who did were advised to do so by their doctors, parental reports showed.
Lau, whose findings were published in the March 15 issue of the journal Vaccine, says it will be interesting to compare these numbers with the results of the 2011 National Survey of Children's Health, which is wrapping up this month.
A similar study in 2011 looking at African American parents' attitudes toward HPV vaccination, discovered that among parents knowledgeable about HPV, vaccination status was significantly affected by whether a pediatrician had recommended the vaccine.