Adolescents Need More Doctor Visits to Receive HPV Vaccine

Most adolescents currently do not see their health care providers often enough to receive the series of shots for the human papillomavirus vaccine, according to preliminary research from the University of Rochester Medical Center. However, the additional visits required would give physicians and nurses the opportunity to provide more preventive and other care.

Two types of the human papillomavirus (16 and 18), which is sexually transmitted, cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. Vaccines against those types of the virus are expected to be approved and recommended in the next six to 12 months.

The benefits of giving adolescents the HPV vaccine are two-fold: The vaccine will greatly reduce their later risk for cervical cancer, and it will give us the opportunity to provide more preventive care, such as counseling against risky behaviors or screening for depression, said lead investigator Cynthia Rand, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the universitys Golisano Childrens Hospital at Strong.

According to data culled from the 2002-03 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey which included 2,900 adolescents between 11- and 21-years-old, only 26 percent of adolescents had three primary care visits appropriate for vaccination within two years. If the first dose is given during a preventive visit, as opposed to during an acute or chronic care visit, only 12 percent of adolescents have appropriate visit timing. The adolescents most likely to need more visits were older, male, non-white, Hispanic and uninsured.

In order to vaccinate adolescents against HPV in a timely way, it is important to assess ways to avoid missed opportunities to vaccinate, determine whether the vaccine is effective given at longer intervals, and consider the possibility of giving the vaccine at other sites, such as in schools, Rand said.

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

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