Original Research

Sociodemographics, behaviour and knowledge of first South African HPV-vaccine recipients

Robyn A. Adams, Cathy Visser, Greta Dreyer, Leon Snyman, Frederick H. Van der Merwe, Matthys H. Botha
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 2| a5913 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5913 | © 2024 Robyn Anne Adams, Cathy Visser, Greta Dreyer, Leon Snyman, Frederick Haynes van der Merwe, Matthys Hendrik Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 January 2024 | Published: 24 April 2024

About the author(s)

Robyn A. Adams, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Cathy Visser, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Greta Dreyer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Leon Snyman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Frederick H. Van der Merwe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Matthys H. Botha, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer and is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections worldwide. Primary prevention strategies target reducing HPV acquisition through vaccination, limiting exposure (e.g. delayed sexual debut, barrier contraception) and health education focusing on sexual behaviour and tobacco use.

Methods: The ImmunoVACCS study, conducted from 2019 to 2022 in two provinces in South Africa, examined sociodemographic characteristics, sexual practices, and knowledge of cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine among young female vaccine recipients. It encompassed participants from the previously conducted vaccine implementation trials, VACCS 1 and VACCS 2 (2011–2014). Recruitment involved telephonic contact with eligible potential participants. Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires.

Results: One hundred and eleven participants took part in the current study (median age: 20 years; age range: 16–22 years). Most sexually active participants had their first engagement in secondary school (96.2%), and 77.2% used contraception during their last sexual activity. Knowledge gaps were evident, with only 13.5% recognising cervical cancer’s cervix origin and 3.6% attributing it to a virus. Despite this, 70.3% had heard of a vaccine for cervical cancer. Less than half knew about the importance of regular Pap smears (49.5%), vaccine protection (44.1%) or condom use (20.7%) against HPV and cervical cancer.

Conclusion: The current study demonstrates that young women still lack complete information on cervical cancer and its risk factors even after receiving health education linked with vaccination.

Contribution: This study underscores the necessity of ongoing education about HPV, its risks and preventive measures among young women to combat cervical cancer.


Keywords

human papillomavirus vaccine; cervical cancer; sexual practices; education; cervical cancer prevention

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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