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Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and a well-established cause of cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers in both women and men worldwide. Despite data that supports HPV vaccine as an effective measure to prevent such cancers, vaccine uptake has not been optimal in many countries. In the United States (US) for example, rates have stagnated over the past few years and only one-third of adolescents are fully immunized, in contrast to other adolescent vaccines such as Tdap and meningococcal that have double the rates of uptake. Current approaches to HPV vaccine education and delivery have not been successful at improving immunization rates. In this article we propose the implementation of a child rights, social justice, and health equity-based approach to HPV vaccine policy. This approach would promote youth’s participation in medical decision-making and advance policies that allow for independent consent to HPV vaccination. We postulate that by empowering youth to be involved in issues pertaining to their health and well-being, they will be more likely to explore and discuss information about HPV with others, and be able to make informed decisions related to HPV vaccine.

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Copyright 2015 Rita Nathawad, David Wood, Jeffrey Goldhagen

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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