OBJECTIVE: Cervical HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease among college-age women. This study aimed to assess knowledge and attitudes towards HPV infection, HPV vaccination and cervical cancer among female university students, to provide insight into development of HPV educational information.
STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey using a convenience sample. A total of 1083 ethnically diverse female students attending a public university were approached and 650 were interviewed.
RESULTS: Knowledge regarding HPV, HPV vaccination, cervical screening and cervical cancer risk factors was remarkably poor. Across the sample, the mean total knowledge score (14-item) was only 3.25 (S.D. +/-2.41; 95% CI 3.07-3.44). Only 10.3% had heard of the newly released HPV vaccine. Approximately 48% of participants indicated an intention to receive an HPV vaccine. Intention to receive an HPV vaccine was significantly associated with knowledge of HPV and genital warts (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.25-1.88), and knowledge of cervical screening and cervical cancer risk factors (OR 1.21; 95% CI 1.11-1.33). Of those who refused HPV vaccination, 50.9% doubted the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine, and 41.5% perceived themselves as not at risk of HPV infection.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that providing education about the etiology of cervical cancer and the HPV link is an essential component to enhance HPV vaccine uptake.