BACKGROUND: The incidence of cervical cancer in developing countries is high and even higher among women in rural areas in these countries.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to assess the knowledge and attitudes towards human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV vaccination, and cervical cancer among young women in rural settings in a Southeast Asia country.
METHODS: A convenience sample of ethnically diverse young rural women in Malaysia was surveyed. Participants were interviewed using a standard questionnaire.
RESULTS: Among the participants (N=449), knowledge of HPV, HPV vaccination, cervical screening, and cervical cancer risk factors was extremely poor. The mean total knowledge score (14 items) was 2.37 (SD 1.97). Although many had never heard of the newly released HPV vaccine, two-thirds professed an intention to receive the HPV vaccine. Intention to receive the vaccine was significantly associated with knowledge of cervical screening and cervical cancer risk factors (OR 1.17; 95% CI 1.03-1.33; P=0.013). Reasons for vaccine refusal were doubts about safety and efficacy of the new vaccine (27.4%), perceived embarrassment at receiving an STI vaccine (20.7%), and perception of not being at risk of HPV infection (20.0%).
CONCLUSIONS: Providing HPV education to the rural residents is a high priority.