Adolescents' awareness of HPV infections and attitudes towards HPV vaccination 3 years following the introduction of the HPV vaccine in Hungary

Erika Marek, Timea Dergez, Gabor Rebek-Nagy, Antal Kricskovics, Krisztina Kovacs, Szabolcs Bozsa, Istvan Kiss, Istvan Ember, Peter Gocze
Vaccine 2011 November 3, 29 (47): 8591-8
Hungary takes the fourth place regarding the incidence and the fifth regarding the mortality of cervical cancer among the member countries of the European Union, with 500 deaths due to this preventable illness and nearly 1200 new cases diagnosed every year. Although the vaccines have been available for 3 years, the estimated rate of the female population vaccinated against HPV is approximately 10% in the 12-26-year-age cohort. The aim of this study was to determine factors and motivations affecting the uptake of HPV vaccination among Hungarian adolescents. Examining the effects of some possible sociodemographic predictors (age and gender) and the exposure to health information on HPV vaccine acceptability were also focused on, as well as assessing the most trusted sources of information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A nationwide anonymous questionnaire survey with a sample of 1769 students attending public primary or secondary schools was organised by the authors in 16 Hungarian cities and towns. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Adolescents' awareness of HPV was relatively low. Only 35% of the participants reported they had heard about HPV prior to the survey. Almost 70% of the potentially affected study population had not heard about the vaccine previously. Every fourth student did not believe that vaccination against HPV can prevent cervical cancer. If the vaccination was available free of charge, almost 80% of respondents would request it, but in case they had to pay for it, this number would significantly decrease. Significantly better knowledge and also more positive attitudes towards HPV vaccination was found in relation to the number of information sources. The majority of respondents (62-83%) were open for further information about STDs. The main trusted mediators were school-health services (61.3%), education on health at school (49.2%), health professionals (42.2%) and electronic media (24.6%). Since Hungarian adolescent students expect guidance about STDs principally from school health education, an urgent need for well-designed, HPV-focused educational programmes emerges. Launching such programmes would be especially important for the adolescent population to increase their awareness of the risks associated with HPV infection thus reducing the high incidence of cervical cancer in Hungary in the future.

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