HPV vaccine acceptability in Ghana, West Africa

Maame Aba Coleman, Judy Levison, Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar
Vaccine 2011 May 23, 29 (23): 3945-50

OBJECTIVE: Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality among women in Ghana. As of this writing no data are available concerning knowledge, attitudes and acceptability of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination by women in Ghana.

METHODS: Between November and December 2009, a self-administered survey was used to elicit information from 264 Ghanaian women, ages 18-65.

RESULTS: Overall, 40% had heard about HPV vaccine and 94% were willing to vaccinate themselves or their daughters. Ideal age for vaccination was 12.7 years. Most women (75%) thought the vaccine should be received regardless of one's number of sex partners. The most prevalent concerns were whether the vaccine would be administered safely using clean needles (82%), and possible future side effects (77%). Concerns about cost and vaccine encouraging earlier sex were reported by nearly half. Significant barriers to vaccine acceptance were women's lack of knowledge about the gravity of cervical cancer in Ghana and utility of Pap test in detecting it, low perceived risk for cervical cancer, low social support to vaccine use, and low self-efficacy to find a doctor or clinic to get vaccinated (p<05). About 55% of the women did not know the vaccine only works among those who are not yet infected with HPV. Schools and television were the most preferred methods of educating the public and cervical cancer prevention ranked as the ideal message (80%). Most respondents believed the decision to vaccinate their daughter should be made by both parents (34%) or in conjunction with the daughter (37%), as opposed to the government (17%).

CONCLUSIONS: Educational programs addressing specific barriers identified in the current study have the potential to significantly improve HPV vaccine uptake in Ghana.

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