Background: Few studies have examined factors associated with actual use of the HPV vaccine since licensure in 2006. The aims of this study were to assess HPV vaccination rates and to examine whether knowledge and risk perceptions regarding HPV were associated with reported use of the HPV vaccine among female college students.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, 406 females ages 18-26 years were recruited at two public universities and completed a self-administered survey. Respondents who reported having received at least one dose of HPV vaccine were classified as “vaccinated” (n=177, 43.6%). Responses, stratified by receipt of HPV vaccine, were compared using descriptive statistics and multivariate models.
Results: Based on multivariate logistic regression modeling, 18 year old females were about four times more likely to report use of the HPV vaccine compared to respondents ages 19-26 years. Respondents who correctly indicated that HPV caused genital warts were 1.85 times more likely (adjusted OR=1.85, 95% CI: 1.20-2.93) to have received at least one HPV vaccine. African American and Asian females were each less likely to be vaccinated compared to white females. Risk perception was not significantly associated with vaccine uptake, however, the majority of respondents failed to accurately recognize their high risk of both acquiring and transmitting HPV.
Conclusions: These findings suggest knowledge deficits and misperceptions about HPV risk as potential themes for educational campaigns encouraging greater use of the preventive HPV vaccine among this subgroup.