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Home HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccines Parental Intentions for Male HPV Vaccination

Parental Intentions for Male HPV Vaccination

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A survey of parents of young boys finds that while mom and dad generally have positive views of HPV vaccines for males, it’s a 50/50 proposition they’ll get their own sons vaccinated. The first HPV vaccine came to market in the U.S. in 2006, initially approved for use only with females ages 9-26 to prevent genital warts and cervical cancer. In 2009 the vaccine’s indication was expanded to include prevention of genital warts for males in the same age range. In 2010, the vaccine was also approved to prevent anal cancers with both males and females in the same age group.

Another vaccine that protects against cervical cancer, but not external genital warts, was also licensed for females only in 2009.

To assess parents’ views of male HPV vaccination, and the factors that may lead them to have their own son’s vaccinated, researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a web-based survey of 1,178 parents who have male children age 17 and younger. The survey also randomly gave parents either a basic message with information about HPV and the vaccine, or an enhanced message that also discussed the potential value of reducing male EGW and anogenital cancers, along with possibly protecting female partners.

Participants who were given the HPV vaccine survey were a subset of a group of parents who were queried on a variety of other health issues. The study took place in August 2009, two months before the vaccine’s male indication was approved.

Just how do parents feel about HPV vaccines for their sons? 90% of parents viewed male HPV vaccination as either important or very important. 100% saw it as important in preventing transmission to females, while 93% saw potential value in preventing male genital cancers and 91% said it’s important to prevent genital warts. There was no difference among those receiving the basic versus the enhanced message in perception that HPV vaccine is important.

Factors associated with intent to vaccinate male children included viewing the vaccine as offering significant health benefits, having support of family in deciding to have a child vaccinated, and perceiving few barriers (inconvenience, for example) to vaccination. A curious finding was that a majority of the 10% of parents who didn’t see male HPV vaccine as generally important still viewed male vaccination as important in preventing both transmission to females and male anogenital diseases.

In spite of an overwhelmingly high proportion of parents thinking male HPV vaccination is important, only about half indicated an intention to have their own sons vaccinated, though. The authors say this “…suggests that some parents may have less enthusiasm for the vaccine when confronted with a personal- rather than a general- decision about vaccination.”

They also note that parents in their study were more likely to point to the prevention of transmission to females - rather than preventing genital warts in males, the only approved indication for the vaccine at the time this survey was done - as an important reason to vaccinate males. If data ever indicate that male vaccination does indeed reduce the likelihood of female HPV acquisition, they say promoting that message to parents may increase uptake among their sons.

Dempsey A, Butchart A, Singer D, Clark S, Davis M. Factors associated with parental intentions for male human papillomavirus vaccination: results of a national survey. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2011. 38(8):769-776.