Navigating the cultural, political, and biological labyrinth of HPV vaccine introduction in India
Tatiana Jacqueline Kaehler
May 13, 2015
Department or Program
Individually Planned Majors
Cervical cancer, which is typically caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), is one of the few cancers that can be successfully prevented. The development of HPV vaccines presents an opportunity to significantly reduce cervical cancer disease burden in developing nations, where the disease burden is the greatest. Although the GAVI Alliance (GAVI), a public-private global health partnership, has offered technical assistance and financial support to developing nations for HPV immunization, there are numerous other barriers to successful HPV vaccine introduction. This analysis explores the key challenges to HPV vaccination in India, where the cervical cancer disease burden is the greatest out of any country in the world. These barriers include distrust of Western involvement in health interventions; the vaccines’ association with the sexuality of adolescent girls; the gendered vaccination approach that solely targets women’s bodies for intervention; and the lack of awareness of HPV and its connection to cervical cancer among physicians and parents. The analysis continues to present strategies to overcome these challenges and successfully introduce HPV vaccines to Indian communities.