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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: Misinformation, Gendered Perceptions, and Low Healthcare Provider Communication Around HPV and the HPV Vaccine Among Young Sexual Minority Men in NYC

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health-led study examined what young sexual minority men (YSMM) — a high-risk and high-need population — know about human papillomavirus (HPV) and the HPV vaccine, and how health care providers communicate information about the virus and vaccine.

The researchers, who included Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, Dr. Jessica Jaiswal, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, and Mr. Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Public Health —interviewed 38 YSMM about HPV infection and vaccination.

Identifying a missed opportunity for HPV prevention among a high-risk and high-need population, they found that:

  1. YSMM had low knowledge about HPV infection — including transmission, signs, symptoms, and cancer risk — and vaccination;
  2. YSMM had incorrect and highly gendered perceptions about HPV being an issue that exclusively or primarily affected women, indicating that vaccination wasn’t a priority for them because they believed they weren’t at risk for any negative outcomes; and
  3. Healthcare providers are almost never discussing HPV and the HPV vaccine with YSMM patients and, when they do, their communication is often inadequate in conveying potential risks of HPV and benefits of vaccination.

“Particularly in light of the decades-long focus on gay men’s healthcare as HIV care, there is a missed opportunity for HPV prevention in the community,” said Mr. LoSchiavo.

“Everyone who is sexually active — regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, partners’ gender(s), relationship or marital status — should talk to their doctor about receiving the HPV vaccine,” added Dean Halkitis.

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