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Many College Students Mistakenly Believe HPV Risk Is Low

In survey, more than half didn't get vaccinated; many were unaware of risk

MONDAY, June 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Many American college students don't fully understand the threat posed by the human papillomavirus (HPV) 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.

Researchers surveyed 192 female undergraduate students at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The results showed that most of the respondents knew about the HPV vaccine, but 54 percent 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.

"A survey of their knowledge on the HPV vaccination and infection indicates a lack of understanding about the consequences, therapy, and [prevention] for an HPV infection," study author Aishwarya Navalpakam, of Oakland University's School of Medicine, said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. "Ultimately, we hope to address this low vaccination rate by raising awareness, providing educational interventions, and helping decrease the incidence of cervical cancer."

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