Effects of Religious Practice and Teachings about Sexual Behavior on Intent to Vaccinate against Human Papillomavirus

Vaccines (Basel). 2022 Mar 4;10(3):397. doi: 10.3390/vaccines10030397.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Most infections are mild and clear without treatment in 1 to 2 years. Some HPV strains result in persistent infection, which can cause various cancers, including cervical, penile, anal, mouth, and throat cancers. Vaccines have been developed that provide protection against the highest risk HPV strains. Despite HPV vaccines having been proven to be safe and effective, uptake has been low. Religiosity has been negatively correlated with HPV vaccine uptake in some studies. It is hypothesized that religiosity and Christian religious affiliation could impact parents' decision to vaccinate their children against HPV via teachings and beliefs about sexual behaviors. A survey was distributed to participants to determine what factors, including religiosity and views about sex, impacted HPV vaccination. The survey results (n = 442) were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and univariate factor analysis. The association between religious practice and vaccine attitudes were complex, with religious practice slightly positively correlated with pro-vaccine attitudes and vaccine knowledge, but also with the belief that religious adherence to expectations surrounding sexual behavior will protect children from HPV infection, as well as more negative views towards vaccines, in general.

Keywords: Christian religious views; human papillomavirus; sexually transmitted infection; vaccine attitudes; vaccine hesitancy.