Carma Bylund Part of $2.9 Million Grant to Help Boost HPV Vaccinations
University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) Public Relations Associate Professor Carma Bylund is part of a research team that received a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate simple interventions aimed at health care providers and parents that could substantially boost vaccine rates for human papillomavirus, or HPV, among 11- and 12-year-olds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, a common family of viruses that can infect the skin or mucous membranes of parts of the body. The virus can lead to abnormal cells on the cervix, vulva, anus, penis, mouth and throat that sometimes develop into cancer.
Stephanie Staras, an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics and the principal investigator of the grant, said Florida teens are particularly vulnerable.
“The state ranks fourth for HPV-related cancer diagnoses, such as cervical cancer, but 39th for starting and completing the HPV vaccine series,” she said. “There is a real need for more effective and practical ways to increase provider recommendations of the HPV vaccine to parents, and have parents be more prepared for these conversations.”
The research team will evaluate ways to increase the frequency of provider recommendations by training providers to use short scripts highlighting the routineness of vaccines or the cancer prevention benefits. The team will also prepare parents of preteens for these conversations with educational text messages.
In addition to her role at UFCJC, Bylund also is an associate professor in the Division of Hematology & Oncology at the College of Medicine and a member of the UF Health Cancer Center.