Improving HPV Vaccination Rates Among Adolescents in New York State
Special Projects Fund
March 20, 2019
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with 79 million Americans currently infected.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems, but in other cases, it can cause cancer. On average, 2,375 New York State residents are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer each year. Although there is no cure for HPV, there is an effective vaccine that prevents infection and thus the development of pre-cancers and cancers. The vaccine protects individuals before their potential exposure to HPV, and is therefore recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for adolescents prior to sexual experiences. Despite the HPV vaccine’s nearly 100% efficacy, safety, and availability, HPV vaccination rates have not increased substantially; only 56% of adolescents ages 13–17 are up to date on the HPV vaccine in New York State. Research has found that the number one obstacle to wider inoculation is pediatricians and family doctors not strongly recommending the vaccine. In 2019, NYHealth awarded the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) NY Chapter 1 a grant to increase HPV vaccination rates among adolescents in New York State.
Under this grant, AAP and the New York State HPV Coalition, in partnership with the American Cancer Society New York Chapter, educated providers about the value of the vaccine and equipped them with the skills to discuss this sensitive topic with parents. AAP and its partners conducted education and quality improvement initiatives with pediatric and family medicine providers, health plans, and school-based health centers. A peer education program addressed gaps in knowledge, attitudes, and practices among providers, as well as provided quality improvement tools to help increase HPV vaccine uptake. AAP hosted continuing medical education conferences and quality improvement programs at provider practice sites to improve HPV vaccination policies. Health plan leadership and members were educated on how to integrate policies and educational programming for provider practices to increase HPV vaccination rates among their patients. School-based health center staff were trained to implement HPV vaccination best practices, including parent engagement methods and adoption of an HPV vaccination policy/standard of practice. Through this initiative, AAP and its partners worked to change the culture, attitude, and practice of providers and in turn raise HPV vaccination rates.