December 19, 2008

Promiscuity fears hinders HPV vaccine use

Many parents fear increased promiscuity if their daughters were to be vaccinated for human papilloma virus, U.S. researchers said.

Yale University researchers said the public believes the benefits of the HPV vaccine are outweighed by potential disadvantages.

Sanjay Basu, a doctoral candidate, and Alison Galvani, assistant professor in the division of epidemiology of microbial diseases, studied how concerns about adolescent promiscuity and everyday economics lead many parents and guardians to not have their children treated.

The vast majority of those surveyed said they believed the risk of cervical cancer and genital warts -- largely spread through sexual contact -- is far lower with the HPV vaccine.

But the same group of 326 U.S. adults also thought adolescent sexual activity would nearly double among those receiving the vaccine. Concern about increased promiscuity was the single biggest factor in the decision not to vaccinate, according to the study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccination be administered to girls ages 11 and 12. Officials say catch-up vaccinations should be administered to women ages 13 to 26.

Less than 25 percent of the U.S. target population has received even one of the three recommended vaccinations, far below the target needed to maximize the vaccine's potential public health benefit.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.