Social Marketing Needed to Increase HPV Vaccine Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductuve tract, according to the WHO. There is good news: record low prices for the HPV vaccine “has opened the door for poor countries to vaccinate millions of girls against a devastating women’s cancer.

On the market front, in terms of consumer and provider awareness and demand, a recent PLoS One study found results to be mixed, with a few great success stories in terms of rolling out HPV vaccine to target markets (Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda), as well as some promising pilots elsewhere. Part of the challenge is showing progress on systems-wide challenges with distribution of other vaccines, which is a requirement to receive support for HPV vaccine roll-out funding from GAVI.

What would help? One strong theme across all countries, according to the authors: more education, including elements of social marketing.

Education for increasing awareness was a strong theme throughout the majority of studies. Recommended strategies to implement sensitization programs included community health education programs, continuing medical education for nurses, midwives, doctors and other healthcare workers, and health promotion and policy programs including awareness through social and mass media (i.e. public radio, television and folk media).

Read the full study.