Young women's attitudes to and perceptions of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer and cervical screening.
(2013) Young women's attitudes to and perceptions of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer and cervical screening., no. 90.
Studies consistently identify poor levels of knowledge and awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the intimate link to cervical cancer and cervical screening. In particular, knowledge of the HPV vaccine implemented in the UK in 2008 is limited. It has emerged in recent studies that some young women and some mothers of young women currently eligible for the HPV vaccine, perceive the vaccine as a 'miracle', offering full protection against HPV and therefore eradicating the need for young women to attend cervical screening in future (Henderson et al. 2011). Set within a subjectivist epistemology and adopting a relativist ontology, this research aimed to explore young Scottish women's (within the 'catch-up cohort') knowledge and perceptions of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and how such knowledge and perceptions impact upon sexual health behaviours and cervical screening uptake for young women. The data revealed varied levels of knowledge and awareness of HPV, the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer and cervical screening among the young women whilst identifying both motivations for engaging with the HPV vaccines and perceived barriers to cervical screening uptake. Furthermore, inconsistencies in awareness of protection offered by the HPV vaccine emerged and implications for screening uptake were explored. Overall, this research raises critical questions of the perceived lack of HPV and cervical cancer campaigns, with a particular need to develop specific age related information for women within the 'catch-up cohort' of the HPV vaccination programme.