Fears pose barrier to cervical cancer vaccinations

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2008-12-18 07:14

The public's concerns about costs and increased promiscuity among teenagers appear to be hindering use of a cervical cancer vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) to prevent life-threatening diseases, according to a study by researchers at Yale School of Public Health.

There is an ongoing public health campaign promoting the vaccination of girls against HPV to prevent against genital warts and cervical cancer, but the Yale study showed the public believes that the benefits are outweighed by potential disadvantages. The Yale researchers - Sanjay Basu, a Ph.D. 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 believed the risk of cervical cancer and genital warts (which are largely spread through sexual contact) is far lower with the HPV vaccine. But the same group of 326 adults in the United States 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.

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