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AACR: Sixty Percent of U.S. Women Lack Knowledge of HPV

Intent to receive human papillomavirus vaccination mixed among women who know it causes cervical cancer

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A large percentage of U.S. women report not knowing about human papillomavirus (HPV) and the intent to receive a vaccination is mixed, according to two studies presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Boston.

A 2005 nationwide National Cancer Institute survey of more than 3,000 women aged 18 to 75 revealed that only 40 percent had heard about HPV. Of those, less than half knew the virus could cause cervical cancer, 64 percent knew HPV is sexually transmitted, and 79 percent knew the virus can cause abnormal Pap smears.

"With limited awareness about HPV among women in this country, there is a need for clear, consistent information about HPV transmission, prevention, detection and the link to cervical cancer," said Jasmin A. Tiro, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

Another study, the nationwide Annenberg National Health Communication Survey, determined intentions toward vaccination. Of the 635 adult respondents (49 percent women), 63 percent of women replied they were likely to get vaccinated when reading the vaccine protects only against cervical cancer, compared to 43 percent who read that the vaccine protects against cervical cancer and a sexually transmitted infection.

"Trends indicate that intentions are highest when the vaccine is framed to solely prevent cervical cancer and lowest when the vaccine is framed to prevent both cervical cancer and a sexually transmitted infection, indicating that people may feel the need for a sexually transmitted infection vaccine is unnecessary," said Amy Leader, M.P.H., of the University of Pennsylvania.

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