Original Research

Knowledge of cervical cancer, human papillomavirus and prevention among first-year female students in residences at the University of the Free State

Nathaniel Mofolo, Maarasi Sello, Moleboheng Leselo, Naledi Chabanku, Samke Ndlovu, Quandry Naidoo, Gina Joubert
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1637 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1637 | © 2018 Maarasi Ntoi, Moleboheng Leselo, Naledi Chabanku, Samke Ndlovu, Quandry Majozi, Nathaniel Mofolo, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2017 | Published: 24 May 2018

About the author(s)

Nathaniel Mofolo, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
Maarasi Sello, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Moleboheng Leselo, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
Naledi Chabanku, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
Samke Ndlovu, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
Quandry Naidoo, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in South Africa. One of the major risk factors for the development of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Aim: To determine the knowledge of first-year female students living in residences on the main campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) regarding cervical cancer and HPV.

Setting: Female residences on the main campus of UFS.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted on participants between the ages of 18 and 25 years using a non-random convenience sampling method. Seven residences were included. Anonymous self-administered questionnaires were distributed during the eveningmeetings to all first-year female students at the selected residences after an information session.Students had to complete the questionnaires immediately after the meeting.

Results: Most of the 373 respondents (85.8%) knew that cervical cancer arises from the cervix, but only 15.4% knew that it was caused by a virus. Of the 62.5% participants who knew that HPV was a cancer-causing virus, most correctly knew that HPV was contracted by unprotected sexual intercourse (81.1%) and that there is a vaccine to protect against HPV (73.1%). However, 62.0% knew that the vaccine was available in South Africa and only 31.0% knew the vaccine was free of charge.

Conclusion: The study revealed that students had limited knowledge of cervical cancer, HPV
and vaccine availability.


Keywords

Early Detection of Cancer; Female Students; Risk Factors; South Africa; Knowledge.

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