Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of university students regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Methods: A random sample of 500 university students was mailed a self-administered questionnaire that elicited their knowledge and awareness about HPV and compared their knowledge and attitudes with those of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Among the 480 deliverable addresses, 289 students responded (response rate 60%).
Results: Only 37% of respondents had ever heard of HPV, and the median score on a 13-item knowledge scale was only 3. Of seven STDs assessed, respondents indicated they knew the least about HPV and perceived that this STD has received the least educational effort. In multivariate analyses, predictors of lower knowledge and awareness about HPV were male gender and sexual behavior (having multiple partners, not using condoms).
Conclusions: Despite the high prevalence of HPV among young adults, most students knew very little about this infection. Implementing HPV educational programs and measuring their effectiveness should be a priority.