Addressing Human Papillomavirus Prevention During Pediatric Acute Sexual Assault Care

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Pediatric sexual assault (SA) victims are a special population eligible for HPV vaccination at the age of 9 years. National clinical practice guidelines advise clinicians to address HPV during emergency department (ED)-based SA care and at follow-up. At our institution, addressing HPV among suspected SA victims was highly variable, and HPV counseling was subsequently recommended on an ED-based acute SA clinical pathway as standard care. The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of age-eligible SA victims who received HPV counseling, determine victim characteristics associated with addressing HPV during SA care, and identify barriers to addressing HPV in the ED.


This study used a retrospective chart review of 448 pediatric SA victims presenting to the ED for acute postassault care.


HPV was discussed in 10 of 56 (18%) and 37 of 49 (76%) cases in the control versus intervention groups, respectively. To verify vaccination status, caregiver recall was relied upon for 32 of 56 patients in the control group (57%) and 24 of 49 patients in the intervention group (48.9%). Factors associated with failure to discuss HPV during postassault care were younger age at encounter (OR = 0.78, 95% CI [0.67, 0.90], p < 0.001), verbal report of vaccination status verification (OR = 2.98, 95% CI [1.51, 6.01]), and male gender of the victim (OR = 3.35, 95% CI [1.20, 11.94]).


Significant barriers to addressing HPV in the ED setting exist, most significantly reliance on caregiver recall to guide vaccination administration, raising concern for overvaccination and undervaccination.

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