Doctors slow to implement HPV vaccination guidelines

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According to a survey published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, less than one third of obstetrician-gynecologists give eligible patients the HPV vaccine and only half adhere to the guidelines published in 2009.

These guidelines recommend vaccinating women ages 11 26 years, a recommendation that has been in effect since 2006. In 2009, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) added additional guidelines recommending biannual Pap tests for women between the ages of 21 and 29.

HPV is responsible not only for cervical cancer, but also for various cancers in both genders ano-rectal and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers, as well as STI s in men and women, especially genital warts. Because vaccination is responsible for steep reductions in the prevalence of HPV, the reason for the slow implementation of vaccination guidelines is unclear.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross has weighed in on this topic before, generally in the same vein: It is a public health tragedy, and travesty, that the HPV vaccine (or vaccines, as there are two varieties) has such a low uptake. We actually have a cancer vaccine, a major goal of scientific research and it s not being used! Of course, there are several explanations for this, but none of them are insurmountable. We in public health need to do more to get the word out, to young people and to parents.