Human Papillomavirus vaccination acceptability among female university students in South Africa

Muhammad Ehsanul Hoque, Shanaz Ghuman, Guido Van Hal
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention: APJCP 2013, 14 (8): 4865-9

BACKGROUND: The objectives of this present study were to assess the awareness of cervical cancer and its risk factors among female undergraduates in South Africa, and to determine the their level of acceptability of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This cross-sectional study was conducted in March 2013 among 440 full time undergraduate female students.

RESULTS: Of those students who never had sex (n=163), 96 (58.9%) had ever heard of cervical cancer and only 12 students (12.5%) knew that HPV causes cervical cancer. More than a third (35.4%) of the students correctly said that sexual intercourse before age of 18 years is a risk factor for cervical cancer and 55.2% of the students knew about the Pap smear test which is used for screening cervical cancer. The majority (77.3%) were willing to accept HPV vaccination. Results revealed that students who knew about the Pap smear test, and were aware that having multiple sex partners, sexual intercourse before the age of 18 years, smoking and having contracted any STDs are risk factors for cervical cancer were more likely to accept HPV vaccination compared to other groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The general knowledge of South African female university students about cervical cancer is not sufficient but they have positive attitudes toward getting vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.

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