The most common sexually transmitted virus in the US is genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, with 20 million Americans currently infected and another 6.2 million becoming infected each year. Although HPV causes serious damage to women's health, including cervical cancer, awareness of the disease is surprisingly low.
In order to understand the public's knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding HPV and its vaccine, and to explore their preferences regarding receipt of HPV information, research was conducted with focus groups in 2003, just before the HPV vaccine was licensed for the public. The study's findings have been published online in the journal Health Education & Behavior, the official journal of the Society for Public Health Education, published by SAGE.
Researchers found that, not only was the HPV awareness and knowledge low, the STD-associated stigma served as a barrier to participants' acceptance to the future vaccine. "Although information about HPV's high prevalence and link to cervical cancer motivated participants to learn more about HPV, it also produced fear and anxiety," write the authors Allison L. Friedman, MS and Hilda Shepeard, MBA. "The research suggests that HPV education efforts must be approached with extreme caution. Instead of focusing on HPV as an STD, communications should take a public-health approach emphasizing the high prevalence and commonality of HPV infection among sexually active adults."
The article, "Exploring the Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Communication Preferences of the General Public Regarding HPV: Findings From CDC Focus Group Research and Implications for Practice" can be accessed for a limited time at http://heb.
Health Education & Behavior is an essential resource that explores how social and behavioral changes affect health and quality of life. It examines the process of planning, implementing, managing, and assessing health education and social-behavioral interventions. The journal is for those interested in disease prevention and health promotion including health educators, social and behavioral scientists, community organizers and planners, social workers, government agencies, and health care professionals such as nurses and physicians. http://heb.
Founded in 1950, the Society for Public Health Education's mission is to provide leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion, and to contribute to the health of all people through advances in health education theory and research, excellence in health education practice, and the promotion of public policies conducive to health. For more information, see www.sophe.org
SAGE Publications is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. A privately owned corporation, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Singapore. www.sagepublications.com