Human papillomavirus vaccination acceptability among university students in South Africa.

Author(s) Muhammad Hoque1, Shanaz Ghuman2, Guido Van Hal3.
Affiliation(s) 1Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, 2Department of Community Health Studies, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 32Medical Sociology and Health Policy, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, 4.
Country - ies of focus South Africa
Relevant to the conference tracks Women and Children
Summary Very few students were aware of the link between HPV and cervical cancer. The majority were willing to accept HPV vaccination. University students needs to be educated regarding cervical cancer and effectiveness of HPV vaccine.
Background Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer after breast cancer in South Africa. Every year, over 3,000 women in South Africa die from cervical cancer. It is reported that 21.0% of women in the general population are estimated to harbor cervical HPV infection at any given time in South Africa. The incidence of cervical cancer is unacceptably high and most cases of invasive carcinoma present late with a high case-fatality. In South Africa the two vaccines (Gardasil® and Cervarix®) are registered but are not freely available. The effectiveness of vaccination programs against HPV will largely depend on how different population groups have been oriented.
Objectives The objectives of this present study are to assess the awareness of cervical cancer and its risk factors among female undergraduates in South Africa, and to determine the level of acceptability of HPV vaccination among these students.
Methodology This was a cross-sectional study which was conducted in March 2013 among 440 full time undergraduate female students using a self-administered anonymous questionnaire.
Results Results indicated that of those students who had never had sex (n=163), 96 (58.9%) hadn't 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 stated that sexual intercourse before age of 18 years is a risk factor for cervical cancer and 55.2% of the students knew about Pap smear tests 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 knew 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 and were more likely to accept HPV vaccination compared to other groups.
Conclusion The general knowledge of South African female university students about cervical cancer is not sufficient but they have positive attitudes toward getting vaccinated against HPV.

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