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Vaccination against Human Papillomavirus: Knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of Medical Students in Sth Africa.

Author(s) Muhammad Hoque1, Sam Monokoane2, Guido Van Hal3.
Affiliation(s) 1Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, 2Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus), Pretoria, South Africa, 3Medical Sociology and Health Policy, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
Country - ies of focus South Africa
Relevant to the conference tracks Women and Children
Summary The majority of the medical students in South Africa intend to prescribe human papillomavirus vaccines even though they have little knowledge of the human papillomavirus vaccine.
Background In South Africa cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women. Currently there are two vaccines available in South Africa. These vaccines are currently being considered for a national vaccination programme. A nationwide vaccination programme in South Africa will almost certainly make a significant difference in the cervical pre-cancer and cancer incidence in the future.
Objectives The purposes of the study are to investigate the knowledge, attitude and beliefs of medical students in South Africa concerning vaccination against the human papillomavirus.
Methodology This was a cross-sectional study conducted among 100 medical students using a self-administered questionnaire.
Results More than two-thirds (71%) of the respondents were aware of HPV and among them 81.2% mentioned vaccination against HPV. The majority (81.7%) were aware that persistent HPV infection is a necessary cause of cervical cancer. The fact that between 60 – 80% of cervical cancer incidents are caused by HPV types 16 and 18 is only known by 14.5% of the medical students. Overall, knowledge regarding HPV infection was low among the medical students as the average score was 3.23 (possible range was 0 to 9). The majority (87.7%) of the students reported that they have not received sufficient information regarding HPV infection. The majority of the students (72.9%) indicated that the vaccine should be given to girls before the onset of sexual activity. More than 90% of the students believe that physicians will support HPV vaccination and adolescents and young adults will accept HPV vaccination and 82.9% intend to recommend HPV vaccination if it is publicly funded. Overall, 86.7% of respondents intend to prescribe HPV vaccines.
Conclusion HPV vaccination is a relatively new concept for the primary prevention of cervical cancer. Overall, knowledge regarding HPV vaccination among the medical students is low, but there was a positive attitude towards it. There is a strong need to provide more education for medical students about the relationship of HPV infection and cervical cancer and the benefits of vaccinating adolescent girls to prevent cervical cancer in the future.

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