Examining attitudes and knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer risk among female clinic attendees in Johannesburg, South Africa

Shelley A. Francis, Jennifer Nelson, Joan Liverpool, Soji Soogun, Nokuthula Mofammere, Roland J. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Developing countries account for 85% of the nearly 500,000 yearly cases of cervical cancer worldwide with approximately 250,000 deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. In South Africa, cervical cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death among women. Although cervical cancer can be screened for with regular Pap tests, access to preventive screenings may be nearly non-existent in resource poor settings that have limited public health infrastructure and where women may lack basic health education. Therefore, it is important to understand women's attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs about HPV, cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine, and assess their access to preventive screening in order to mitigate their risk for developing the disease.Eighty-six women, ages 18-44 with at least one child who presented at an antenatal clinic in a township in Johannesburg were recruited to complete a brief questionnaire. Using both descriptive and multivariate statistics, we assessed knowledge of cervical cancer, HPV, and the vaccine; assessed maternal-child communication about sex and STDs, assessed willingness to vaccinate child; and identified barriers to assessing medical care and the vaccine.The majority of participants were unfamiliar with HPV and cervical cancer, were concerned about their child's and their own risk for HPV and cervical cancer, faced numerous barriers to accessing screening, and were willing to vaccinate their child. Our findings indicate that women in developing countries need increased access to screening and education about HPV and cervical cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8026-8032
Number of pages7
Issue number50
StatePublished - Nov 23 2010


  • Cervical cancer prevention
  • HPV
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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