Does HPV vaccination affect women's attitudes to cervical cancer screening and safe sexual behaviour?

Vaccine. 2012 May 2;30(21):3196-201. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.081. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has the potential to greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by protecting against HPV infections responsible for 70% of cervical cancer diagnoses. However, preliminary research has indicated that women vaccinated against HPV may be less likely to undergo cervical cancer screening and engage in safe sexual behaviour. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether vaccinated and unvaccinated women differ in their (i) knowledge of cervical screening guidelines, (ii) perceived vulnerability to cervical cancer, (iii) cervical screening intentions and uptake, and (iv) attitudes to and engagement in safe sexual behaviour. Participants were 193 female university students (119 vaccine recipients and 74 vaccine non-recipients) who completed online self-report questionnaires. Of all the assessed outcomes, attitudes to safe sexual behaviour were the only significant findings related to vaccination status (p<.001), such that vaccinated women held more positive attitudes to practicing safe sexual behaviour. Less than 5% of participants correctly identified screening guidelines. These findings do not support previous research concluding vaccination could have a detrimental impact on screening and sexual behaviour. Importantly, results highlight poor awareness of screening guidelines, poor levels of consistent condom use (50%) amongst those sexually active, and low uptake of screening (42%) amongst those eligible to be screened. Further research needs to specifically address young women's gaps in knowledge by developing initiatives promoting cervical screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Safe Sex / psychology
  • Safe Sex / statistics & numerical data*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines