If your sexual assault medical-forensic exam does not include offering the HPV vaccine to eligible patients, perhaps it’s worth considering. And if you’re looking for the evidence base to support its inclusion in your comprehensive exam, last month the nice folks over at Cochrane obliged us and contributed to said evidence base by publishing a review on the HPV vaccine to prevent cancerous and pre-cancerous changes to the cervix. According to the CDC, vaccine coverage data published in the National Immunization Survey (NIS) states that about 6 out of 10 adolescents received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine, which means there are a substantial number of young women who aren’t vaccinated at all or completely. The medical-forensic exam is a potential opportunity to start or continue the series, and some programs have been offering the HPV vaccine, particularly for patients who have limited access to routine healthcare services.
Obviously, this review doesn’t speak to all of our patients, but we’ll take it to start.