Since vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) became available, awareness of HPV has dramatically increased. Implementation of a vaccine program varies internationally yet no studies have explored the influence this has on the public's knowledge of HPV. The present study aimed to explore differences in awareness of HPV and HPV knowledge across three countries: The US, UK and Australia. Participants (n=2409) completed a validated measure of HPV knowledge as part of an online survey. There were higher levels of HPV awareness among men and women in the US than the UK and Australia. Being male and having a lower educational level was associated with lower HPV awareness in all three countries. Awareness of HPV vaccine was higher in women from the US than the UK and Australia. Women in the US scored significantly higher on general HPV knowledge (on a 15-item scale) than women in the UK and Australia, but there were no between country differences in HPV vaccine knowledge (on a 6-item scale). When asked about country-specific vaccine availability, participants in the US were less able to identify the correct answers than participants in the UK and Australia. More than half of participants did not know: HPV can cause genital warts; most sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their life; or HPV doesn't usually need treatment. Pharmaceutical advertising campaigns could explain why awareness of HPV and HPV vaccine is higher in the US and this has helped to get some important messages across. Significant gaps in HPV knowledge remain across all three countries.
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