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Separating fact from fiction: Understanding the HPV vaccine
U-M expert offers parents facts about HPV and the new vaccine for girlsA University of Michigan Health Minute update on important health issues
Ann Arbor - Many parents are still divided over a new vaccine that can provide protection against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a very common sexually transmitted disease that is linked to cervical cancer and genital warts.
Some parents caution that the vaccine, called Gardasil, will encourage sexual activity. Others wonder how effective the new vaccine is, and if it can protect against all types of HPV. There are many parents, too, who see the vaccine as an opportunity to reduce their child's risk for cervical cancer.
But sorting through all of the information about HPV, cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine - and deciding what's right for your child - can be a tedious process, says Amanda F. Dempsey, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
To help separate HPV fact from fiction, Dempsey, a member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics, offers parents these five facts about HPV and the HPV vaccine.
5 facts about the HPV vaccine
She also notes that parents' resistance to the use of the vaccines could, in fact, become a major barrier to the use of this preventive treatment, if their concerns and questions about the HPV vaccines are not adequately addressed.
Dempsey also recently led a study to gauge parents' acceptance of the new HPV vaccine for their preadolescent children. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that parental beliefs about the benefits of HPV vaccinations, the opinions of peers and doctors, and their personal experiences with STDs or HPV-related illnesses were actually more influential on their decision-making process than general education materials alone. Results from this study also reveal parents to be more enthusiastic about vaccinating female than male children.
Additionally, a recent poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked U.S. parents if they would support a school mandate for the HPV vaccine. The report found that the majority of U.S. parents are not in favor of HPV vaccine mandates, with only 44 percent in support of a school mandate.
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