PloS one 2018 04 1113(4) e0195801 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0195801
The incidence of cancers attributable to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that affect males is on the rise. Currently in the UK teenage boys are not vaccinated against HPV while teenage girls are. The rationale for not vaccinating boys is that vaccinating girls should provide herd immunity to boys, however this does not protect men who have sex with men or men who have sex with unvaccinated women. The issue of whether to vaccinate boys or not is a controversial one with considerable lobbying taking place to change the existing policy. On one side of the debate are financial considerations while on the other side health equality is important. One avenue that has not been presented is the parental perspective. The current study uses a self-report questionnaire to explore what parents of teenage boys know about HPV and the vaccine and whether they want the vaccine for their sons. Only half of the parents had heard of HPV prior to completing the survey. Of those who had heard of HPV, knowledge about the health sequelae of HPV for men was poor relative to their knowledge about its impact on female health. Parents who would be willing to vaccinate their sons had higher levels of knowledge about HPV than those parents who would be unwilling or unsure. Irrespective of whether they had previously heard of HPV or not, once provided with a brief description of HPV, the majority of parents thought that boys should be offered the vaccination. There is a pressing need for public education about the potential impact of HPV on male health in order to facilitate uptake of the vaccine in the event of the vaccination programme being extended to men or to facilitate informed decision making about seeking the vaccine privately in the event that it isn’t.