HPV Vaccine Awareness and Willingness of First-Year Students Entering University in Western Turkey


The objectives of this study were to assess the level of knowledge on HPV and HPV vaccination, and todetermine vaccination attitude among Ege university students in Izmir, Turkey. A cross-sectional survey wasconducted in first-year English preparatory class. Systematic cluster sampling was applied and 717 (72.6%) ofstudents registered to the 54 classes in 17 different faculties/schools were contacted. Data were collected betweenApril 30 and May 18, 2010, through a self-reported questionnaire including 40 questions. A knowledge score wascalculated by summing up the number of correct answers given to the 12 knowledge questions. Analyses weredone using t-test, chi-square test, univariate and multivariate logistic regression. The mean age of participantswas 19.7±1.5 and 445 (62.1%) were female. Overall, 132 (18.9%) had experienced sexual intercourse, but only7 of them were female. Among participants, 24.1% had heard of HPV and 25.1% about HPV vaccine. Theknowledge item with the highest correct answer rate (32.3%) was that HPV caused cervical cancer. The meantotal knowledge score was remarkably poor (1.8±2.6 over 12 items), with 59.6% of respondents having zeroas their score. There was no difference in mean knowledge scores between males and females. Higher income,history of sexual intercourse and higher knowledge score were significant factors increasing HPV and vaccineawareness for the whole group, adjusted for gender. Genital cancer history in the family significantly increasedawareness, but only among girls. Only three students (0.4%) had already been vaccinated, all being female.Among females, 11.6% intended to be vaccinated vs. 10.1% for males, without any significant difference. Visiting agynaecologist/urologist in the last three years, a history of genital cancer in the family, vaccine awareness, a highertotal knowledge score, and being from the East of Turkey were significant predictors of a positive vaccinationattitude. HPVvaccination still remains as a ‘hot medical topic’ in Turkey, since it hasn’t yet become a popularhealth issue. Based on their age of first intercourse, first year at the university seems to be appropriate timingto inform Turkish girls, whereas it is a bit late for boys. Thus, integration of HPV education into secondary/highschool curricula should be considered.