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HPV Vaccine Protects Against Infection 8 Years Out

Doctors continue to urge parents to get the recommended three doses for their preteens

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"They thought that preventing cancer is good and that all girls should get vaccinated," she said. "What was happening was a problem with timing."

Doctors weren't suggesting the vaccine for girls aged 11 to 12, Perkins said. They thought the vaccine should be given later, when girls are more likely to be sexually active, she said.

Doctors and parents were thinking more about how the virus is transmitted, rather than about the vaccine as a way to prevent cancer, she said.

"Everyone needs to focus on why we are giving the vaccine, which is to prevent HPV-associated cancers, rather than on how one gets HPV," Perkins said.

High vaccination rates were achieved when doctors looked at the HPV vaccine as a normal part of the vaccination schedule. In addition, talking about preventing cancer was a more successful approach than talking about HPV as a sexually transmitted infection, the researchers added.

Cadilla wasn't surprised by the survey findings. "We have known that we have not been doing a good job vaccinating girls and boys," she said.

Cultural prejudices about sex need to be overcome, Cadilla added. "A lot of times because HPV is a sexual disease, it will scare parents off," she said. "But you never know when your child is going to start having sex."

Cadilla advises parents to have their kids vaccinated. "You are preventing something from happening in the future," she said.

Perkins' findings were based on interviews about HPV and the vaccine with 124 parents and 37 doctors.

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