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Women Health. 2011 Jan;51(1):25-40. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2011.540744.

Correlates of HPV knowledge in the era of HPV vaccination: a study of unvaccinated young adult women.

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  • 1Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, The Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4300, USA.


Until recently, awareness of the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus-the virus that causes cervical cancer-was relatively low. The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with human papillomavirus knowledge now that human papillomavirus vaccines have become widely available. Young adult women (n = 739; aged 18-26 years) attending Florida State University who had not yet initiated human papillomavirus vaccination completed a survey between March-August 2009. The survey assessed human papillomavirus awareness, human papillomavirus knowledge, demographics, socio-political variables, sexual history, and health history variables. Over 97% of participants were aware of human papillomavirus prior to study enrollment; however, knowledge of human papillomavirus was only moderate. A multivariate regression analysis examining factors related to human papillomavirus knowledge revealed five independent correlates: Latina ethnicity, premarital sex values, number of lifetime sexual partners, history of cervical dysplasia, and HIV testing. These variables accounted for 14% of the variance in human papillomavirus knowledge. Less knowledge was observed for Latinas and women opposed to premarital sex. Greater knowledge was observed for women who had been tested for HIV and women with more sexual partners or a history of cervical dysplasia. These findings can inform future human papillomavirus vaccination campaigns and may be particularly useful in developing interventions for individuals with the largest deficits in human papillomavirus knowledge.

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