Creating a Model for Youth-Driven HPV Prevention

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This blog post is by Megan Feely, a former member of the OSBHA Student Health Advocates

For the last few months, OSBHA Student Health Advocates have been developing youth-led HPV prevention education based on evidence and best practices. Education sessions will be provided to high school students as part of our feasibility study project, funded by the Knight Cancer Institute. The Student Health Advocates are also developing a training for healthcare providers on youth-oriented HPV prevention, funded by the EC Brown Foundation. This training is called Eye to Eye: Discussing HPV with Youth. This training will lead a discussion surrounding HPV prevention using role-play and scenarios to tackle the following topics; biases and their effects on youth, minor consent laws, confidentiality, developing relationships with youth patients and using non-judgmental language.


The Peer to Peer HPV curriculum, on the other hand, is more comprehensive on the basics of HPV and the vaccine. This curriculum, like the Eye to Eye training, is created and lead by youth. The goal of the peer to peer curriculum is to educate youth on what HPV is, empower them concerning their patient rights, and then guide them where they can get the vaccine.


One of the important connections between the two projects is minor rights and confidentiality. We are explicitly touching base on these two topics because the experience of Student Health Advocates shows that many providers are ill-informed about the laws concerning minors. 


The Student Health Advocates have also provided the youth voice in HPV training for professionals, including leading sessions at the 2018 and 2019 Oregon HPV Summit hosted by the American Cancer Society. 


Overall these experiences have been immensely satisfying with high rewards. As a young adult, I find that the research and effort that has been put into not only these two projects but the STI/STD committee as a whole has been enlightening and exciting. Ever since I have joined OSBHA, youth input has always been a priority and with these two projects, we are actively making HPV prevention more accessible to youth. 


This work is especially important for the committee since there is a vaccine that can nearly eradicate 6 different cancers! We can get rid of cervical cancer in my lifetime if we invest in ways to make the vaccine more accessible. That means explaining safety, efficacy, and the true purpose of the vaccine, which has always been cancer prevention. 


I hope our efforts inspire others around the state to check their own vaccine records. For many people it's not too late to get vaccinated, just ask your doctor! 


Happy HPV week!