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Many Texas Docs Not Pushing HPV Vaccine for Girls

Study finds fewer than half always recommend the shots, despite federal guidelines

THURSDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of Texas doctors don't always recommend human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for girls, despite U.S. guidelines urging their inoculation, a new survey finds.

Protection against HPV reduces the risk of cervical cancer, and the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends HPV vaccination for all 11- and 12-year-old girls.

In the survey of 1,122 Texas physicians, 48.5 percent said they always recommend HPV vaccine to girls, 68.4 percent said they were likely to recommend the vaccine to boys, and 41.7 percent agreed with the mandated vaccination, the researchers found.

Doctors in academic practices were more than twice as likely to recommend the vaccine as those in non-academic practices. Physicians who believe professional organizations or professional conferences are important sources of information were almost twice as likely to recommend the vaccine as those who didn't have this opinion.

"Most physicians are aware of the vaccine and what it prevents, but they may lack knowledge about issues of safety and how to address parental concerns. That may be making them reluctant to deliver the vaccine," Dr. Jessica Kahn, an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

The findings appear in the Aug. 1 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and Kahn believes the results could be representative of doctors across the United States. The national HPV vaccine rates for 11- to 12-year-old girls are between 6 percent and 25 percent.

"Two years after the FDA approved the vaccine, the study suggests that additional efforts are needed to encourage physicians to follow these national recommendations," Kahn said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the HPV vaccine.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Aug. 6, 2009

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