Sexual Orientation Disparities in Human Papillomavirus Vaccination in a Longitudinal Cohort of U.S. Males and Females

LGBT Health. 2017 Jun;4(3):202-209. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2016.0103. Epub 2017 May 3.


Purpose: This study sought to examine how human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination may differ across sexual orientation groups (e.g., bisexuals compared to heterosexuals)-particularly in boys and men, about whom little is known.

Methods: Data were from a prospective cohort of 10,663 U.S. females and males enrolled in the Growing Up Today Study followed from 1996 to 2014. Participants were aged 11-24 years when the vaccine was approved for females in 2006 and 14-27 years when approved for males in 2009. In addition to reporting sexual orientation identity/attractions, participants reported sex of lifetime sexual partners. Log-binominal models were used to examine HPV vaccination across sexual orientation groups.

Results: Among females, 56% received ≥1 dose. In contrast, 8% of males obtained ≥1 dose; HPV vaccination initiation was especially low among completely heterosexual males. After adjusting for potential confounders, completely heterosexual (risk ratio [RR]; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.45 [0.30-0.68]) and mostly heterosexual (RR; 95% CI: 0.44 [0.25-0.78]) males were half as likely to have received even a single dose compared to gay males. Compared to lesbians, no differences were observed for completely heterosexual or bisexual females, but mostly heterosexual females were 20% more likely to have received at least one dose.

Conclusions: HPV vaccination rates in the U.S. are strikingly low and special attention is needed for boys and men, especially those who do not identify as gay. Vaccinating everyone, regardless of sex/gender and/or sexual orientation, will not only lower that individual's susceptibility but also decrease transmission to partners, females and/or males, to help eradicate HPV through herd immunity.

Keywords: adolescence; bisexuality; cancer; gay; lesbian; sexually transmitted infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines