A study by researchers at the Yale Cancer Center that was recently presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago found a large racial gap in knowledge about the effectiveness of a vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus is primarily transmitted by sexual contact and can cause cervical cancer and other cancers. The federal government recommends that women between the ages of 18 and 26 get the vaccination.
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Yale researchers found that nearly 58 percent of White Americans were aware of the vaccine compared to only 46 percent of African Americans. There was a similar racial gap about awareness of the vaccine among women in the target group of those aged 18 to 26.
“In an era when such tremendous advances have been made, and we can prevent cancer with vaccines, it is unfathomable that such differences exist in the simple awareness of these vaccines based on racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities. We have got to do better,” said senior author Anees Chagpar, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine and the assistant director for diversity and health equity at Yale Cancer Center.