Let's Talk (Intelligently) About Sex

A Huge Success

Australia was one of the first countries to provide young women free access to the HPV vaccine, and the strategy worked. A recent study by the University of Sydney, which documented over a million patient visits, found that in the years following the start of the vaccination program, the number of doctor’s visits dealing with genital warts dropped over 60 percent. That’s an enormous change, and it reflects the fact that free access to vaccination means that more women actually get vaccinated. Cost is a big barrier to vaccination, although only one of many. In the U.S. a lack of discussion of the vaccine is also a serious problem as is, false information about vaccine safety that has been promulgated on the Internet. However, the biggest problem may be the fact that many doctors do a horrible job of recommending the vaccine to patients. Until offering it becomes a standard part of patient care, I strongly suspect we’re unlikely to see much change, particularly since another recent study by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that parent and teen knowledge had nothing to do with uptake. If doctors don’t offer the vaccine, most patients simply aren’t going to ask.

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