Study: Religious women less educated about HPV vaccine

Young women who practice a religion are less informed about the HPV vaccine than their nonreligious counterparts, according to a study published in PLOS One.

For the study, researchers mailed surveys about the HPV vaccine to female patients — ages 18 to 26 — at the University of Utah's community clinics in the Salt Lake City area. Of the survey respondents, 148 women practiced an organized religion and 178 women were not religious. Researchers conducted the survey in 2013 and analyzed the results in 2015.

Religious women were less likely to have heard of the vaccine, have received a provider recommendation for the vaccine or know how HPV is spread. About 73 percent of non-religious women had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine at the time of the survey, compared to 50 percent of religious women. Sixty percent of non-religious women were fully vaccinated against the virus, while just 36 percent of religious women were fully protected.

"Results indicate that religious young women in Utah are not only under-vaccinated, but are also under-informed about HPV and the HPV vaccine," researchers concluded. "These results suggest that suboptimal vaccine coverage among religious young women may present a serious health risk for the community."

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