Human Papillomavirus Infection: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among Lesbian, Gay Men, and Bisexual in Italy

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42856. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042856. Epub 2012 Aug 8.


Background: This cross-sectional study assess knowledge, attitudes, and behavior towards the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the vaccination among a random sample of 1000 lesbian, gay men, and bisexual women and men.

Methods: A face-to-face interview sought information about: socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge about HPV infection, perception of risk towards HPV infection and/or cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers, perception of the benefits of a vaccination to prevent cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers, sexual behaviors, health-promoting behaviors, and willingness to receive the HPV vaccine.

Results: Only 60.6% had heard about the HPV infection and this knowledge was significantly higher in female, in those being a member of a homosexual association, in those having had the first sexual experience at a younger age, in those having received information about the HPV infection from physicians, and in those having no need of information about HPV infection. A higher perceived risk of contracting HPV infection has been observed in those younger, lesbian and gay men, who have heard of HPV infection and knew the risk factors and its related diseases, who have received information about HPV infection from physicians, and who need information about HPV infection. Only 1.7% have undergone HPV immunization and 73.3% professed intent to obtain it in the future. The significant predictors of the willingness to receive this vaccine were belief that the vaccination is useful, perception to be at higher risk of contracting HPV infection, and perception to be at higher risk of developing cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers.

Conclusions: Information and interventions are strongly needed in order to overcome the lack of knowledge about HPV infection and its vaccination. Inclusion of boys in the national vaccination program and initiate a catch-up program for men who have sex with men up to 26 years may reduce their burden of HPV-related disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bisexuality*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Homosexuality, Female*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines

Grant support

This study was supported by a research grant from the Second University of Naples (Naples, Italy). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.