November 10, 2010

Fewer Women Receiving HPV Vaccine

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that affects 50 percent of the sexually active population. HPV left untreated can develop into cervical cancer in women, which is why scientists developed the HPV vaccine. This study shows that, even though the vaccine is effective, few of the women eligible for the HPV vaccine take it. What's more, many of the teens who begin treatment do not complete the recommended three-dose regimen.

"Only about one-third of young women who begin the three-dose series actually complete it; this means that large numbers of teenagers are unprotected or under-protected from strains of HPV that lead to cervical cancer," J. Kathleen Tracy, Ph.D., assistant professor, epidemiology and public health, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), Baltimore was quoted as saying.

Dr. Tracy and colleagues gathered information from the University of Maryland Medical Center's (UMMC) clinical data repository on 9,658 teens and young women who were eligible for HPV vaccination between August 2006 and August 2010. Of the total women, 2,641 young women started HPV vaccination; 39.1 percent received a single dose, 30.1 percent received two doses, and 30.78 percent completed the recommended three-dose regimen.

Two-thirds of the teens who began the vaccination were black. Young women, aged 18 and older, were the least likely to take more than a single dose. Young black women and teens were less likely than white to complete the three-dose series.

From a public health perspective, these findings highlight several critical issues, Tracy said. Scientists and public health advocates must identify strategies for increasing vaccination initiation. For instance, practitioners may have to play a more active role in encouraging patients to complete the doses, she said. Parents can be valuable partners, encouraging vaccination and ensuring that their daughters complete all three doses. Finally, strategies are needed to increase completion among all young adult women.

SOURCE: Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held November 7-10 in Philadelphia, PA