Implementing HPV vaccination for boys in Sweden: gender equality and sexual health among young people
In September 2019, the Swedish Government decided that boys will be offered vaccination against sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) for free, starting in the autumn of 2020 and given via the school health services to boys in fifth grade. The decision to extend the HPV vaccination programme from only including girls to also involving boys has been acknowledged by experts and lay people alike as important for both the public health of the population and for issues of gender equality. This project provides the first study of this new gender-neutral Swedish vaccination policy and the dynamics between it and its implementation.
The study aims to gain knowledge about how the new HPV vaccination policy is implemented, focusing on its implications for understandings and practices of gender equality and sexual health among young people. In light of persistent problems with lack of resources in the school health services and increased fears of and distrust in vaccines among citizens, we investigate the problems and challenges that emerge in the implementation process, and how these are perceived and handled by concerned actors.
By utilizing a qualitative case-study approach, we examine how the policy implementation of HPV vaccination for boys is carried out and perceived by involved actors on a regional level. We do observations in public administration and at schools to follow the implementation process in place, and combine this with interviews with involved professionals, boys and parents. The project contributes with knowledge about how challenges and problems in sexual health policy implementation processes are perceived and handled by involved professionals and users, and the implications of these matters for understandings and practices of gender equality and sexual health. This knowledge is important to improve the HPV vaccination programme and to assist the implementation of other public and sexual health policies concerning young people in the future.