Background Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmissible infection (STI) in the United States (US) and an important cause of several cancers. Vaccines that prevent HPV infections are now recommended for routine use in adolescents but coverage remains suboptimal in the US. Because they are often promoted as cancer prevention vaccines, little is known about parents' views on vaccination for prevention of an STI.
Methods: In this qualitative study, parents and caregivers of children ages 10-18 years completed an in-depth interview. Participants (n=38) were recruited from an urban hospital-based primary care centre serving a low-income population in the north-eastern US during May 2013-February 2014. Interviews were transcribed and coded using a thematic content approach.
Results: Five major themes emerged with relevance to the topic of HPV vaccination for STI prevention: (1) low awareness of HPV as an STI; (2) favourable opinions about STI prevention messages for vaccination, including at young ages; (3) salience of sexual mode of transmission, given the unpredictability of adolescent sexual behaviour and high rates of other STIs and teen pregnancy; (4) recognition that sexual health is a topic of conversation between adolescents and health care providers; and(5) relevance of personal experience.
Conclusions: Discussing STI prevention in the context of HPV vaccination appears to be well accepted by urban, low-income minority families. In addition to providing information on cancer prevention, these messages may help to raise awareness, acceptability and uptake of HPV vaccines.