HPV is common and many types can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Today, it is highly recommended that girls ages 11 to 13 get the vaccine.

At a Communications and Journalism research colloquium on Wednesday, Gill Woodall, a communication professor and researcher, discussed the website and the research that went into building it.

The researchers conducted focus groups with parents of girls, girls themselves and school administrators across the state on HPV and vaccines, he said.

They found that most parents preferred their children to receive the vaccine from a physician rather than at school, were fearful of potential side effects and questioned how susceptible children actually are to the virus, Woodall said. They also discovered a general lack of knowledge on the topic altogether.

The website, gohealthygirls.org, is still in the research stage and is not yet optimized online. When it does go live, however, it will provide information on HPV and the vaccine as well as answer questions and concerns, said Woodall. Using interactive videos, it gives tips to parents on talking to their children about HPV. It also contains games like “HPV Jeopardy” that young girls can play.

“I found this talk highly informative,” said Jazzlyn Ford, a junior in signed language interpreting. “The HPV information was presented very clearly and I was highly engaged in what was presented. I believe through their study and focus groups, the website gohealthygirls.org will have a huge impact and make people think twice about this vaccine.”

A few key concerns with the HPV vaccine are frequently raised, said Woodall. One is that HPV is sexually transmitted which means that the vaccine is protecting against something more serious than the flu or tetanus. Another is that the complete vaccination course requires a series of three shots.

“If this were the polio vaccine parents wouldn’t have the concerns that they do,” Woodall said.

Woodall’s lecture was a part of the Department of Communication and Journalism’s monthly research colloquium series. The series strives to, “provide an intellectual presentation and exchange of various communication, interdisciplinary and community-based topics and ideas,” according to their website.

On April 24 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in C&J room 119 there will be a colloquium on “Digital Health” with Gary L. Kreps. On April 29 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in SUB Lobo Room A&B there will be a “Civil Discourse and the 2016 Presidential Campaign” with Alexander Heffner. On April 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Willard Room in Zimmerman Library there will be a colloquium on “Millennials, New Media and the Future of Civil Discourse” with Alexander Heffner.

Marielle Dent is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. You can reach her at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.