Comparing knowledge and perceived risk related to the human papilloma virus among Australian women of diverse sexual orientations Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: The study compared levels of awareness of human papilloma virus (HPV) as a sexually transmissible infection (STI) between women of different sexual orientations. It also examined self-reported risk factors for HPV infection, perceived level of personal risk, and willingness to have the HPV vaccine. METHODS: Recruitment occurred through community sampling and data was collected using a self-completion questionnaire. RESULTS: A convenience sample of 349 women completed the questionnaire in early 2007, 309 were sexually active; 47.6% had lifetime sexual partners of both genders, 26.9% had only male partners, and 25.5% had only female partners. Women with partners of both genders were more likely to have ever had a pap test but were also more likely to report an abnormal result (OR 3.19) than women with only male partners. Only 68% of the sample had heard of HPV and women with partners of both genders were significantly more likely to be aware than women with only male partners (OR 2.56). Forty-four per cent did not know how HPV was transmitted and less than half correctly identified HPV-associated clinical problems, with no differences according to gender of partners. The majority of women had risk factors for HPV, however, few felt personally at risk. CONCLUSIONS: The very low personal risk perception for HPV, particularly among women who have female and male sexual partners, suggests the need for targeted education for this group regarding HPV transmission and prevention. IMPLICATIONS: Health promotion regarding HPV should be broadened to specifically include information about HPV as an STI between women.

publication date

  • February 2009