Background: Australia commenced a publically-funded, National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program in 2007 with a two year catch-up phase for females aged 12-26 years.
Objective: To identify the factors associated with the uptake of the HPV vaccine (which has a recommended 3-dose schedule in Australia) by young adult women vaccinated by general practitioners and community-based programs within the catch-up phase.
Methods: 1139 women who were eligible to receive the free HPV vaccine during the catch-up period were recruited in 2008-2009 (age 20-29 years at recruitment), in New South Wales, after having a normal (negative) cervical smear result recorded on the NSW Pap Test Register. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire providing information on vaccination status, and sociodemographic and other factors.
Results: Overall, 880 (77%) women reported receiving ≥ 1 dose of the vaccine and 777 women (68%) reported receiving ≥ 2 doses. In multivariable analysis (adjusting for the period for which each woman was eligible for free HPV vaccination), uptake of ≥ 1 dose of the vaccine was significantly associated with being born in Australia (p < 0.01), being single (p = 0.02), being nulliparous (p < 0.01), living in a higher socioeconomic status area (p-trend = 0.03), living in more remote areas (p = 0.03), drinking alcohol (p < 0.01) and using hormonal contraceptives (p < 0.01). Although vaccinated women were more likely to have fewer sexual partners than unvaccinated women (p-trend = 0.02), they were also more likely to report a prior sexually transmitted infection (STI) (p = 0.03). Similar factors were associated with receiving ≥ 2 doses.
Conclusions: In this group, women living in higher socioeconomic status areas were more likely to be vaccinated against HPV in the catch-up phase of the national program. Although vaccinated women tended to have fewer sexual partners, they also reported prior STIs, which may be a marker of increased risk of prior exposure to HPV. The findings of this study reinforce the continuing need to prioritise equitable delivery of vaccination to various population subgroups.
Keywords: Cervical smears; HPV vaccine; Inequality; Sexual behaviour; Socioeconomic status.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.