Many health care providers may not know the benefits of giving the new HPV vaccine to boys and men, and that could be a hurdle to more widespread vaccination programs, a new study has found.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine are reporting a health care provider's attitude toward the male HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination makes them less likely to offer it, as recommended by new federal health guidelines.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Men's Health, suggest a new public health campaign is necessary to stress the benefits of giving the HPV vaccine to boys and men to reduce their risk of certain cancers.
HPV infects 20 million men and women in the United States each year. It causes about 7,000 anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers in men a year. The vaccine also prevents cervical cancer in women and has been more widely given to girls.
Last year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended universal HPV vaccination of 11- to 12-year-old boys with catch-up vaccinations for males aged 13 to 21.
The revised recommendation followed new studies showing that vaccination may prevent genital warts, anal cancer and possibly head and neck cancers.
For the new study, Boston researchers analyzed pediatric and family medicine health providers’ attitudes on the HPV vaccine in 2009 and 2010. They also tracked how often they administered the HPV shot to boys. They found that while 24 of 31 of the providers favored vaccinating males, only three (12 percent) offered vaccination. Providers who did not offer the shots said they felt that parents would not be interested in vaccinating sons to prevent cervical cancer in women and were largely unaware of serious HPV-related disease in males.
"Although we believe the new recommendations will likely cause some improvement in HPV vaccination levels for males, their adoption may remain slow if physicians are unaware of the rationale behind the strengthened recommendations," explained lead author Dr. Rebecca B. Perkins.