HealthDay News — Many college students don’t fully understand the threat posed by the human papillomavirus or their risk for infection, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from May 30 to June 2 in New Orleans.

“A survey of their knowledge on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and infection indicates a lack of understanding about the consequences, therapy, and prophylaxis for an HPV infection,” said Aishwarya Navalpakam, of Oakland University’s School of Medicine in Auburn Hills, Michigan, said, in a press release.

T Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends vaccination of girls aged 11 to 12 years to target women who are not sexually active. However, the three-dose vaccination can be received up to the age of 26 years.

Previous studies indicate that vaccination rates are low due to lack of provider recommendation, lack of access and coverage of the vaccination, and perception of low risk for acquiring the infection.  Parents are known to oppose the vaccination based on the belief that it encourages promiscuity and increases the risk for other sexually transmitted infections.

To assess students’ knowledge of HPV, the researchers surveyed 192 female undergraduate students at Oakland University. The results showed that most of the respondents knew about the HPV vaccine, but 54% were not vaccinated.

Students still believed they had a low risk of being infected with HPV even after they were given information about the infection and vaccination, the researchers said. The investigators plan further analysis of the survey data in order to learn more about the students’ knowledge and beliefs about HPV infection and vaccination.

“Ultimately, we hope to address this low vaccination rate by raising awareness, providing educational interventions, and helping decrease the incidence of cervical cancer.”


  1. Navalpakam A et al. “Human Papillomavirus Vaccination: What Are College Students Thinking?” Presented at American Society for Microbiology meeting. May 30-June 2, 2015; New Orleans.