HPV education key in college populations

HPV education among college-aged students may minimize infections.
HPV education among college-aged students may minimize infections.

SAN ANTONIO—Continued education is key in minimizing the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections among college-aged students, according to research presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).

Emily D. Weinick, PA-S, and colleagues at the School of Health and Medical Sciences at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, conducted a survey of 150 students between the ages of 18 and 24 to assess participants' demographic information and knowledge of HPV.

Of the participants, 75% were aged between 18 and 19 years. One-fifth (18.7%) had never heard of HPV; of those who indicated that they were aware of HPV, nearly half (43.7%) rated their knowledge as “poor.” While 79.3% of participants indicated an awareness of HPV as a cause of cervical cancer, 46.7% were aware that HPV can also cause oral cancer and 30.7% were aware that HPV can cause genital warts. More than half of the participants were aware that HPV can be transmitted when a person is asymptomatic, that pap smears can provide evidence of HPV, and that an HPV vaccine exists to prevent infection (88%, 80.7%, and 76%, respectively).

Prior HPV research has also focused on young adult knowledge of HPV. Similar results show that a majority of students know that HPV is sexually transmitted; the researchers aimed to fill an existing void in research regarding the relationship between HPV and oral cancer.

“The results of this study show the importance and benefits of HPV education in college-aged students,” said Ms. Weinick. “However, there are still shortcomings in knowledge among both males and females, specifically in regards to oral transmission of HPV and its ramifications.”

“Continued education is of utmost importance to minimize the spread of HPV infection and ultimately prevent the development of cervical and oral cancers,” Ms. Weinick concluded.

Reference

  1. Weinick ED, O'Keefe BM, Corrubia AL, et al. Knowledge and perception of human papillomavirus among college-aged students. ePoster presented at: American Academy of PAs 2016; May 14-18, 2016; San Antonio, Texas.
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