Bright Light in HPV Vaccination Story: Traditionally Underserved Populations are Getting Attention

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that most boys aren’t receiving the HPV vaccine is not surprising, but there is some exciting news lurking in the study’s finding: The boys who are more likely to receive the HPV vaccine are the traditionally underserved – those who are minority, Hispanic, lower-income, or in a single-mother household.

(The report was published online Oct. 26 in the journal Pediatrics. Here’s the HealthDay article. )

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover vaccinations, and the CDC, in turn, has been devoting funding to state health departments for outreach to these populations. Clearly, this effort is paying off.

In Massachusetts, a Department of Public Health initiative funded by the CDC is aiming for a goal of 80 percent of female and male adolescents receiving the full vaccination by age 15 – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. We’re seeing progress in reaching those underserved populations but concentrated efforts must continue.

The burden of HPV-associated disease is large; in addition to cervical cancer, HPV can cause anal, oral/pharyngeal, vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancers. In addition to state and local public health efforts, other organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National AHEC Organization are actively providing education and training to health care providers.

Learn more about JSI’s HPV project with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.