HPV Vaccinations and Prevention
Vaccinations for the HPV virus are effective and safe way to prevent teens and young adults from receiving HPV from an infected individual. Conspiracies surrounding the safety of vaccines has been an issue in the United States for the last few decades, but the HPV vaccine has been proven to be an effective way to ward off the virus. A quote from the Center for Disease Control website states that, “All HPV vaccines have been found to have high efficacy (close to 100%) for prevention of HPV vaccine type-related persistent infection, (CDC 2016)” showing that people have no reason to have doubts about the safety of the vaccination. Regardless, most people are aware that there are some conspiracies surrounding vaccinations and their potential perceived side-effects. Many people understand that there is no connection between vaccinations and Autism Spectrum Disorder, still it is hard to believe that people still believe in such hoaxes with today’s level of information. One group of researchers published an article in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology discussing parental beliefs and attitudes towards childhood vaccinations. Through multiple different types of studies, the researchers found that four major barriers, “issues of harm, issues of distrust, access issues, and other issues, more than half of the studies included concern about the risk of adverse effects, concern that vaccinations are painful, distrust of by those advocating vaccines (including belief in conspiracy).” This shows that there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the safety of vaccinations which is causing parents to fear for the safety of their children. This copious amount of misinformation is causing parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, which has long term negative health repercussions that they necessarily are not thinking about. One of of which could be contracting the HPV virus when they get older.
People today have a high tendency to heavily underestimate their chances of receiving any type of diseases or illnesses. HPV is no exception to this rule. Having low expectations of receiving any illnesses or diseases is something that is extremely common in all types of people. Especially since no one wants to imagine a future where they may potentially have a life-threatening disease. A study conducted on male’s knowledge of perceived risks published in the Journal of Men’s Health shows exactly that. The journal details a cross-sectional study of 165 male college students who were given surveys on the topic of HPV. The study aimed to assess how much risk these college students thought they were in. In order to determine how much risk these students perceived they were in, the researchers used questions that involved their sexual activity, information on HPV and other questions related to the vaccine. Through these questions, the researchers determined that a large portion of men had little to no information on HPV. Only 12.1% thought that they were at risk of getting infected with the HPV virus. This is much lower than the researchers would have expected it to be and they suggest implementing educational programs on the subject to help these college students.
A study on African American Women’s’ knowledge of HPV and HPV vaccinations shows how little education lower-income people have received on this subject. Out of 215 women who were given surveys on HPV vaccinations, only 7% of these women received vaccinations. Out of these same 215 women, 69.3% of them reported that they had some form of medical insurance that would cover the cost of getting the vaccination. Assuming that the 7% that got vaccinated had insurance, 62.3% of these women choose to take the risks of obtaining the HPV virus. There are many factors that this journal mentions that could be the cause of this decision. Whether it is personal or religious beliefs about vaccinations or not having it offered to them, they chose to take the risks because of their lack of knowledge on the subject. This journal concluded this study by saying, “targeted educational health programs are needed to increase awareness among these women who have the highest rate of cervical cancer mortality in the United States.” This is a similar statement to the previous study mentioned, showing that researchers continue to believe that educational programs are the key to reducing HPV prevalence.
Another solution to aiding in the prevention of the HPV virus is to promote the use of condoms to at risk young adults. In a study on assessing STI (sexually transmitted infections) prevention behavior, the researchers used national surveys to determine what the best course of action was to increase condom usage. With over ten thousand participants, the study found that “Men’s condom use was not associated with STI risk perception while women’s was. Awareness of and disease severity perceptions were not associated with either condom use or risk perception though education level correlated with condom use.” This quote shows that men are typically have less perceived risks of developing STI’s without condoms while women had a much higher perceived risk. The study calls for public health interventions in communities to advocate for condom usage not solely through increasing knowledge, but through providing resources to allow young adults to have access to condoms when they want to use them.
Condom use is something that has serious efficacy at prevention of multiple different kinds of STI’s and STD’s, but is not utilized enough. It is well known how effective condoms are, so why do so few people use them? There are multiple reasons why people may not want to use them, whether they think it is uncomfortable, unnatural or they just do not have access, people continue to refrain from using them. When it comes to the prevention of HPV and other diseases though, they could not be making a bigger mistake. This quote from a report on the Epidemiology of HPV shows just how essential condom usage is.
“Consistent and correct condom use can reduce the risk for HPV and HPV-associated diseases (e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer). A limited number of prospective studies have been conducted evaluating male condom use and HPV; one prospective study among newly sexually active women attending university demonstrated a 70% reduction in HPV infection when their partners used condoms consistently and correctly”
Personally, this is hard to read, because after doing extensive research on the subject, it appears to be so obvious to use condoms. Around 57% of high school students who reported to be sexually active reported that they used condoms (Condom Use 2016). This number is dangerously low in my opinion because of how effective condoms are and how simple they are to use. Overall, there are many ways to prevent HPV infection, but lack of knowledge of these preventative solutions is the basis for the high rate of HPV in lower-income areas.
Condom Use. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/condom-use
Katz, M. L., Krieger, J. L., & Roberto, A. J. (2011). Human papillomavirus (HPV): college male’s knowledge, perceived risk, sources of information, vaccine barriers and communication. Journal of men’s health, 8(3), 175-184.
Leval, A., Sundström, K., Ploner, A., Dahlström, L. A., Widmark, C., & Sparén, P. (2011). Assessing perceived risk and STI prevention behavior: a national population-based study with special reference to HPV. PLoS One, 6(6), e20624.
Markowitz, L. E., Dunne, E. F., Saraiya, M., Chesson, H. W., Curtis, C. R., Gee, J., … & Unger, J. E. R. (2007). Human papillomavirus vaccination: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Methods, 12, 15.
Mills, E., Jadad, A. R., Ross, C., & Wilson, K. (2005). Systematic review of qualitative studies exploring parental beliefs and attitudes toward childhood vaccination identifies common barriers to vaccination. Journal of clinical epidemiology, 58(11), 1081-1088.
Strohl, A. E., Mendoza, G., Ghant, M. S., Cameron, K. A., Simon, M. A., Schink, J. C., & Marsh, E. E. (2015). Barriers to prevention: knowledge of HPV, cervical cancer, and HPV vaccinations among African American women. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 212(1), 65-e1.