Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer: Gardasil® vaccination status and knowledge amongst a nationally representative sample of Australian secondary school students Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The aim of this paper was to measure student knowledge of HPV and risks associated with cervical cancer, explore associated factors, correlate knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer with other domains of sexual health related knowledge and estimate student self-reported rates of HPV immunisation. Data were from a nationally representative cross-sectional stratified cluster sample of year 10 and 12 students in the Australian secondary school system. Contingency table, comparison of means, correlation and multiple OLS regression analyses of students answering HPV (n=1927) and cervical cancer (n=2680) knowledge questions was undertaken. Student HPV and cervical cancer knowledge was generally poor. Young women exhibited better knowledge than young men however the difference was, to some extent, accounted for by vaccination for HPV. Sexually active students and those having more sexual partners in the previous year did not report higher levels of HPV and cervical cancer knowledge. The large majority of young women surveyed reported a HPV vaccination as did a small proportion of young men. Students who reported being vaccinated had higher levels of knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer. Student knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer is considerably limited. There is some evidence that being vaccinated for HPV improves a person's level of understanding of the disease and cervical cancer. The recent national public health campaign focussing on cervical cancer vaccination for young women may be partly responsible for a lack of understanding of HPV as a common STI.

publication date

  • June 2010