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STUDY TAKES SHOT AT HPV PREVENTION

"HPV"
Communication Assistant Professor Nan is leading a study to improve HPV vaccination rates among African-Americans.


By Monique Everette, TERP

Too few African-American girls are getting a vaccine that could prevent cancer, and a new study led by communication Assistant Professor Xiaoli Nan is leading a study of ways to change that.


The director of the university’s Center for Communication, Health and Risk, she’s heading an interdisciplinary team that received $150,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study parents’ and other caregivers’ attitudes toward the HPV vaccine.

HPV is a common, sexually transmitted virus that usually causes no symptoms, but can cause cervical cancer and other forms of disease. The Centers for Disease Control recommends females ages 9-26 get the HPV vaccine. African Americans have higher cervical cancer incidence and fatality rates and lower HPV vaccination completion rates than non-Hispanic whites. 

“Studies have shown that African Americans have negative ideas about vaccines. They have trust issues with the government and with health care,” says Nan, who is working with cancer prevention researchers from the School of Public Health. “And they have misinformation about the vaccine.”

Nan and her research team are interviewing caregivers of African-
American girls ages 9-17 in an effort to develop messages that may influence them to support HPV vaccination.