Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that causes cancers of the cervix, anus, vagina, penis, and oropharynx. HPV vaccination prevents HPV types that commonly cause these cancers. HPV vaccines have been approved in Thailand since 2007. However, the vaccination rate remains low, particularly in young people.
This study aimed to investigate the information level regarding HPV infection and vaccination in the younger Thai population, the self-reported vaccination rate, the vaccine intention, and factors affecting the intention.
This cross-sectional study enrolled a total of 521 undergraduate students (77% female). We used a 34 items self-administered questionnaire (18 questions assessing knowledge level).
The mean score of knowledge was 7.53 ± 4.95 (total score 18), indicating a low-to-moderate level of knowledge. Female gender and health-related majors were significant factors associated with greater knowledge. The self-reported vaccination rate was 1.9% among only female participants. Only 30.3% of the unvaccinated subjects had the intention to receive the vaccine. The factors affecting vaccine intention were female gender and having knowledge score ≥7. The barriers to HPV vaccination were cost (52.2%), and the perception of no need due to low-risk behavior (45.1%).
Education programs on HPV infection and vaccination should be included in the curriculum earlier, if possible, since primary school because the vaccine works best before the onset of sexual activity. In university students, the education programs may encourage the sexually inexperienced students to receive the vaccines, as they are still the ideal group for catch-up vaccination. Moreover, parental education is essential, as national vaccination programs usually target younger people. Knowledge sharing by educated people and organizations could enhance the information level in the communities. Consequently, people become aware of primary prevention by vaccination, which may lead to an increase in vaccination rates and eventually decrease HPV-related cancers.
© 2020 The Author(s).