Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Using HPV vaccination for promotion of an adolescent package of care: opportunity and perspectives

Catherine MacPhail12*, Emilie Venables1, Helen Rees1 and Sinead Delany-Moretlwe1

Author Affiliations

1 Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI), School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

2 Collaborative Research Network in Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities, University of New England, Level 1 Botany Building S2, Armidale, NSW, 2351, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:493  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-493

Published: 21 May 2013



Adolescents are a difficult population to access for preventive health care, particularly in less resourced countries. Evidence from developed countries indicates that the HPV vaccine schedule may be a useful platform from which to deliver other adolescent health care services. We conducted a qualitative cross sectional study to assess the potential for using the HPV vaccine in the South African public health care system as an opportunity for integrated health care services for adolescents.


Parents, young adolescents, community members and key informants participated in interviews and focus group discussions about feasibility and acceptability, particularly the use of the HPV vaccination as the basis for an integrated adolescent package of care. Health care providers in both provinces participated in focus group discussions and completed a pairwise ranking exercise to compare and prioritise interventions for inclusion in an adolescent package of care.


Participants were in favour of integration and showed preference for detailed information about the HPV vaccine, general health information and specific sexual and reproductive health information. Among health care workers, results differed markedly by location. In North West, prioritisation was given to information, screening and referral for tobacco and alcohol abuse, and screening for hearing and vision. In Gauteng integration with referral for male circumcision, and information, screening and referral for child abuse were ranked most highly.


There is generally support for the delivery of adolescent preventive health services. Despite national priorities to address adolescent health needs, our data suggest that national policies might not always be appropriate for vastly different local situations. While decisions about interventions to include have traditionally been made at country level, our results suggest that local context needs to be taken account of. We suggest low resource strategies for ensuring that national policies are introduced at local level in a manner that addresses local priorities, context and resource availability.