BOSTON — Many parents have misconceptions about human papillomavirus (HPV), and may not realize the vaccine is available and recommended for boys as well as girls, according to researchers.
“Raising awareness of the new HPV immunization guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice to vaccinate boys is important to prevent HPV related cancer in men,” Tami Thomas, PhD, CPNP, RNC, of Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, told Clinical Advisor during a poster session at the 2014 National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Annual Conference.
The CDC estimates that only 8% to 10% of U.S. boys and men aged 9 years and older are vaccinated against HPV, despite ACIP guidelines recommending it for this population.
So Thomas and colleagues conducted interviews, focus groups and anonymous surveys with parents of boys aged 9 to 13 years in rural areas with high rates of cancer and low HPV vaccine use to determine factors that influence their decision to seek the vaccine for their sons.
Overall, 417 parents responded that they knew the HPV vaccine is now available for boys and that they intended to vaccinate their son.
Mothers were found to be 1.68 times more likely than fathers, and black participants were 1.78 times more likely than white participants to vaccinate their sons, the researchers found.
There were no significant differences in scores on perceived vulnerability to HPV, perceived disease severity or perceived benefits of vaccination among parents who would and would not vaccinate their son.
Thomas recommended healthcare providers emphasize three key points when discussing vaccinating boys against HPV with parents:
- HPV is spread by skin to skin contact through friction/the rubbing of skin surfaces together
- Vaccinating boys prevents cancer
- Vaccination does not promote sexual promiscuity
“Male-focused nursing interventions should start with increasing parents’ knowledge about HPV infection and the link between HPV infection and cancer,” she said.