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Parents supportive of male HPV vaccine, study suggests

Ethnic differences contribute to varied opinion on schools mandating male students to receive the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine, a new Boston University School of Medicine study found.

Rebecca Perkins, BUSM professor of obstetrics and gynecology, interviewed 120 parents and legal guardians of boys between the ages of 11 and 17 between December 2011 and December 2012 and found a majority of the parents believe the benefits of vaccination outweigh the drawbacks, according to a Wednesday BUSM release.

Despite the ethnic differences, low-income and minority parents and guardians were supportive of the vaccine, the study found.

Traditionally, low-income and minority males have been found to have higher rates of oral HPV infection and HPV-related cancers, according to the release.

The release stated researchers found the reason most cited for parental hesitation was lack of information regarding the vaccination and its purpose, specifically for boys.

“This study indicates that most parents would accept HPV vaccination for their sons just as readily as for daughters,” Perkins said in the release. “Future research should explore the effects of the 2012 recommendations for routine vaccination for males on parental attitudes and uptake of HPV vaccination among both sexes.”

Researchers, who examined race as a possible variable in the responses, found ethnicity did not factor into parents’ views toward vaccinating boys, but did affect parents’ views toward whether schools should mandate vaccination, according to the release.

White study participants were less likely to support school-entry mandates than minority study participants, according to the release. Seventy-three percent of African-American participants and 86 percent of Latino participants supported school mandates, while only 44 percent of Caucasian participants were in support.

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women in the U.S., with about 12,000 new cases per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. About 7,000 new cases of HPV-associated cancers in males are also diagnosed annually.

Several BU students said they were surprised by the results of the study.

Nandani Deendyal, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she was given the HPV vaccine when she was 13 years old, and her mother, who is natively Indian, was skeptical when her doctor suggested the vaccination.

“I think it’s a culture thing,” Deendyal said. “My parents are Indian. All these vaccinations they didn’t have as kids that their kids can get in America, they may not understand as well.”

James Marin, a College of Fine Arts senior, said he finds the results of the study surprising because other vaccinations such as polio and chicken pox are so widely accepted.

“If I were supposed to take the shot before coming to school, I would have to know how pressing it is to have the vaccination,” Marin said. “I want to know more information about it and how important it is to get the vaccine.”

CAS sophomore Evan Ramos said a mandate would be beneficial for people because the vaccine helps prevent certain cancers.

He said a mandate might also upset a peoples’ sense of freedom of choice.

“If they’re going to obligate students to take the vaccine then they should educate students on the benefits and downsides,” Ramos said. “It would rub people the wrong way but I don’t think it would deter people from coming to school.”

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