Objectives: To examine the knowledge and perceptions of 11-year old girls and their guardians toward the human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV (mandatory) vaccination and cervical cancer and to determine their main sources of health information.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was done by interviewing two separate study populations ie 11-year old girls from five primary schools in Georgetown and their guardians. Questions were designed to assess level of knowledge as well as perceptions about mandatory vaccination and sources of health information.
Results: A total of 87 girls participated, of whom 10 (11%) had already received the HPV vaccine. Overall, when asked whether they knew of HPV, the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer or the Pap smear, more than half of the girls, in every instance, did not know. Seventy-four guardians took part and most (> 80%) of them claimed that they knew about these parameters except for HPV transmission (40%) and the cause of cervical cancer (30%). Both girls and guardians responded poorly to questions about the detection of cervical cancer. Furthermore, only two of the 14 girls who stated that they knew how HPV was transmitted, actually answered correctly that it was sexual transmission. Girls were almost twice as likely to be in favour of mandatory vaccination as guardians (OR 1.8, 95% CI: 0.9, 3.6) but the difference was not significant (p > 0.05). The girls indicated health centres/clinics (58%), whilst TV/radio (66%) was the preference for the guardians as their most popular health information sources.
Conclusions: These findings point to a necessity for educational programmes and activities in which children and their guardians can meaningfully participate and be informed about the different aspects of HPV vaccination.