HPV, Cervical Cancer and Pap Test Related Knowledge Among a Sample of Female Dental Students in India

Dolar Doshi, B Srikanth Reddy, P Karunakar, Kopparesh Deshpande
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention: APJCP 2015, 16 (13): 5415-20

BACKGROUND: The present study was designed to ascertain knowledge about HPV, cervical cancer (CC) and the Pap test among female dental students of Panineeya Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Hyderabad, India.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire covering demographic details, knowledge relating to human papilloma virus (HPV) (8 items), cervical cancer (4 items) and the Pap smear (6 items) was employed. Responses were coded as "True, False and Don't Know". Mean and standard deviation (SD) for correct answers and levels of knowledge were determined.

RESULTS: Based on the year of study, significant differences in knowledge of HPV were noted for questions on symptoms (p=0.01); transmission from asymptomatic partners (p=0.002); treatment with antibiotics (p=0.002); start of sexual activity (p=0.004); and recommended age for HPV vaccination (p=0.01). For knowledge regarding CC, significance was observed for the age group being affected (p=0.008) and symptoms of the disease in early stages (p=0.001). Indications for Pap smear tests like symptoms' of vaginal discharge (p=0.002), marital status (p=0.01) and women with children (p=0.02) had significant difference based on the year of study. Based on religion, transmission of HPV via pregnancy, HPV related diseases except CC and preventive measures except condom use and oral contraceptives showed significant differences. However, significant variation with religion was observed only for two preventive measures of CC (Pap test; p=0.004) and HPV vaccination (p=0.003). Likewise, only the frequency of Pap test showed a significant difference for religion (p=0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study emphasizes the lack of awareness with regard to HPV, CC and screening with pap smear even among health professionals. Hence, regular health campaigns are essential to reduce the disease burden.

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