Background: High risk human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16 and 18 have been proven as central causes of cervical cancer and safety and immunogenicity of HPV vaccines are sufficiently established. Knowledge and practices of HPV vaccination among medical and paramedical students is vital as these may strongly determine intention to recommend vaccination to others in the future. The present study was therefore undertaken to assess the knowledge, attitude and practices regarding cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination among medical and paramedical students and to analyze factors influencing them. Materials and
Methods: The present cross sectional study, conducted in a tertiary care teaching hospital in south India, included undergraduate students aged 18 years and above, belonging to medical, dental and nursing streams, after informed written consent.
Results: Out of 957 participants, only 430 (44.9%) displayed good knowledge and only 65 (6.8%) had received HPV vaccination. Among the unvaccinated, 433 (48.54%), were not willing to take the vaccine. Concerns regarding the efficacy (30.5%), safety (26.1%) and cost of the vaccine (21.7%) were responsible for this. Age, gender, family history of malignancy and mother’s education had no influence on knowledge. Compared to medical students, nursing students had better knowledge (OR-1.49, 95% CI 0.96 to 2.3, p = 0.072) and students of dentistry had poor knowledge (OR-0.50 95% CI 0.36 to 0.70, p <0.001).
Conclusions: The knowledge and uptake of HPV vaccination among medical and paramedical students in India is poor. Targeted health education interventions may have huge positive impact not only on the acceptance of vaccination among them, but also on their intention to recommend the vaccine in future.