It isn’t easy ever for moms and dads to have “The Talk” with teen-agers. But the reluctance of physicians to deal with youthful sexuality may be affecting women’s long-term health, new research suggests.
A study by faculty at the medical schools at Harvard and Vanderbilt finds that primary care physicians are reluctant to recommend that young patients get the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent an infection that causes many cervical cancers, as well as vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile or head and neck cancers.
Yes, physicians have their hands full these days talking with some parents and patients about vaccinations, in general.
But doctors react to the HPV vaccination differently than others, especially in their interactions with parents, and in failing to provide what can be the decisive recommendation for the vaccine, NPR says. “Discomfort talking about sex appears to be a more salient factor” than safety concerns about the vaccine, said lead study author Melissa Gilkey, an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The NPR report addresses safety concerns for the vaccine, whether it encourages promiscuity (answer: no), and notes that the Centers for Disease Control recommends the vaccination for all boys and girls ages 11 and 12 because its benefits are greatest before young people start engaging in sex.