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Coastal Health District Director of Nursing Presents Findings on HPV at National Institutes of Health

September 4, 2013

Originally published June 4, 2012

Betty Dixon, nursing and clinical director for the Coastal Health District, recently returned from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md, where she presented findings on the administration of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by Georgia physicians. Dixon's work was selected to be part of the 21st Annual U.S. Public Health service Nursing Recognition Day sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The purpose of the poster was to present my findings from an examination Georgia physicians' administration of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to 11-12 year old females according to the Advisory Council Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines, their intention to recommend HPV vaccine to 11-12 year old males, and their perceived knowledge and barriers associated with HPV vaccination," said Dixon.

HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women and also causes most cases of genital warts in men and women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for females and males ages 11 through 26.

Dixon completed the research while pursuing a Doctor of Public Health Degree from Georgia Southern University. During the course of her research, Dixon contacted 264 physicians throughout the state of Georgia. Approximately one in 10 who responded reported they always vaccinate 11-12 year old females. The number increased to one in five who always vaccinate females ages 13-17 years, suggesting parents or physicians may be delaying vaccination until females are older than 12 years. Approximately one-quarter said they recommend the vaccine to their male patients. More than half reported insufficient insurance coverage for the vaccine as a barrier to vaccinating males and females.  
"Findings from this study may serve as a helpful resource for further assessment of HPV vaccination in Georgia and targeting educational and policy interventions," she said. "Other states may also find this data of interest as they move forward with vaccination of males."

Dixon's poster was one of only 25 accepted for presentation at the event. Several key dignitaries were present and made remarks at the opening session including RADM Boris Lushniak, Deputy Surgeon General, USPHS; Julie Sochalski, Director, Division of Nursing for the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA); and RADM Kerry Paige Nesseler, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS Chief Nurse.

"It was an honor to attend and share my research findings with some of the top health leaders in the country," said Dixon. "It's an experience I will never forget and certainly one of the highlights of my public health career."