Background: Worldwide, human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are a common sexually transmitted disease. Among its variants, high-risk HPV (types 16, 18) are a significant cause for several genital cancers. There is scarcity of data from the Middle Eastern region regarding the understanding of young men and women toward HPV infection, HPV-related cancers, prevention and HPV vaccine. HPV infection contraction means are not advertised optimally in Saudi Arabia. Likewise, HPV vaccination is not commonly sought.
Subjects and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on young men and women enrolled in medical schools at different academic years from King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Demographics were collected; HPV general testing, and vaccination knowledge were assessed using a validated questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences, and a p-value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. Variables associated with excellent and poor knowledge of HPV, testing and vaccinations were evaluated.
Results: Out of the 462 participants, 227 (49.13%) were male, the mean age of the cohort is 22.05 ± 1.526 years, 442 (95.7%) have previously heard of HPV, 323 (69.9%) of testing, and 324 (70.1%) of vaccination. Knowledge of all three sections was significantly associated with higher academic years, increasing age, and female gender.
Conclusion: This study showed that the overall knowledge of young men and women in medical school regarding HPV is fair to average. Superior knowledge levels were associated with female gender, higher academic years, and older age. Familiarity with one aspect of HPV infection is associated with a better understanding of others.
Key words: HPV infection, knowledge, understanding, HPV vaccine, HPV testing, Saudi Arabia, Middle East