Sex Transm Infect 89:327-329 doi:10.1136/sextrans-2012-050612
  • Epidemiology
  • Short report

Knowledge of human papillomavirus and cervical cancer among young women recruited using a social networking site

  1. Suzanne M Garland2,3,5,8
  1. 1Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, The Royal Women's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Gynaecology, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5Infection and Immunity Theme, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  6. 6Department of Medicine (Royal Melbourne Hospital), University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7Bone and Mineral Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  8. 8Department of Microbiology, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Suzanne M Garland, Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, The Royal Women's Hospital, Locked Bag 300, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia; Suzanne.Garland{at}
  • Accepted 30 August 2012
  • Published Online First 9 October 2012


Objectives Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the commonest sexually transmitted infection. Despite the significant morbidity and mortality associated with HPV-related diseases, previous studies have demonstrated low HPV knowledge in the general population. The objectives of this study were to assess knowledge of cervical cancer and HPV among young women and investigate predictors of high knowledge.

Methods Female subjects, aged 16–25 years living in Victoria, Australia, were recruited using targeted advertising on Facebook from May to September 2010. A web-based questionnaire was used in a cross-sectional pilot study for a large longitudinal study on women's health, The Young Female Health Initiative.

Results A total of 278 women completed the questionnaire. The geographic region, indigenous status and socio-economic status of participants were representative of the target population. Overall, 63% knew what HPV was, but only 48% knew it was a common virus. Predictors of high HPV knowledge on multivariate analyses were older age (adjusted OR (aOR) 2.78, 95% CI 0.77 to 10.04), higher socio-economic status (aOR 1.39, 95% CI 0.66 to 2.95), being Australian-born (aOR 3.10, 95% CI 1.15 to 8.36), older age at first vaginal intercourse (aOR 1.84, 95% CI 0.66 to 5.14), awareness of HPV vaccines (aOR 2.16, 95% CI 0.68 to 6.85) and chlamydia (aOR 2.57, 95% CI 1.11 to 5.94), and self-reported HPV vaccination status (aOR 1.83, 95% CI 0.76 to 4.41).

Conclusions HPV and cervical cancer knowledge among participants were relatively high compared with other studies conducted both worldwide and in Australia. However, deficits in knowledge exist and warrant address in educational initiatives.

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