Sexual Health news - Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Some Parents are still hesitant about teens receiving HPV vaccine

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil as an HPV vaccine, it was the first time that physicians could immunize individuals against certain strains of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) that may cause genital warts and some cancers. However, according to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, despite these benefits, parents want the ability to consent to their preteen or teen receiving the series of shots.

Since HPV can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, sexual partners are more susceptible to the virus than other STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. There are over 40 different types of this virus, most of which may not trigger symptoms. However, some strains can cause painful warts or cervical cancer, which is diagnosed in approximately 12,000 women in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The collected data from the poll revealed to researchers that more than 80 percent of surveyed participants said that the HPV vaccine should be a parent's decision. In addition, 43 percent were hesitant about it due to the risk of side effects and another 40 percent reported moral or ethical concerns.

Adolescents should be vaccinated before sexual activity for most protection

The vaccine, which is a series of three shots, protects against four prominent strains of HPV. The CDC recommends that females between the ages of 13 and 26 receive the vaccine. Researchers have also expanded the immunization to males to protect against head and neck cancers.

Since the vaccine is most effective if administered before sexual activity starts, most individuals receive it as a minor, even as early as age 9, which is why they currently need parental or a guardian's consent.

"That presents a challenge. Parents aren't thinking their 11 or 12-year-old child is ready for sexual activity at that age," said Sarah Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health. "Many parents ask to delay the vaccine until their child is a little older. But older teens go to the doctor much less than younger adolescents, and often they go without a parent."

Due to this obstacle, public health officials have been tempted to push laws that would drop the requirement for parental consent. Parents are aware of the benefits of the vaccine, but they are just not comfortable with their son or daughter deciding whether to get it.