Beliefs, behaviours and HPV vaccine: Correcting the myths and the misinformation.

Zimet, G.D., Rosberger, Z., Fisher, W.A., Perez, S., & Stupiansky, N.W., (2013). Beliefs, behaviours and HPV vaccine: Correcting the myths and the misinformation. Preventive Medicine, 57, 414-418.

Objective: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake in many countries has been sub-optimal. We examine several issues associated with non-vaccination that have received particular attention, including fears about sexual risk compensation, concerns about vaccine safety, inadequate vaccination recommendations by health care providers (HCPs), and distrust due to the perceived “newness” of HPV vaccines. 

Methods: Selective review of behavioral and social science literature on HPV vaccine attitudes and uptake. 

Results: There is no evidence of post-vaccination sexual risk compensation, HPV vaccines are quite safe, and they can no longer be considered “new”. Nonetheless, research findings point to these issues and, most importantly, to the failure of HCPs to adequately recommend HPV vaccine as major drivers of non-vaccination. 

Conclusion: Most fears related to HPV vaccine are more related to myth than reality. In the absence of major health policy initiatives, such as those implemented in Canada, the U.K., and Australia, a multi-level, multi-faceted approach will be required to achieve high rates of HPV vaccination. It will be essential to focus on the education of HCPs regarding indications for HPV vaccination and approaches to communicating most effectively with parents and patients about the safety and benefits of vaccination and the risks associated with non-vaccination. 

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