Research: Lack of awareness on HPV driving up cervical cancer cases

A new study has revealed that students training to be teachers have little information about a sexually transmitted disease that increases women's risk of contracting cervical cancer.

The survey results presented at the just concluded Kemri (Kenya Medical Research Institute) Annual Scientific and Health Conference found that knowledge about vaccination for the human papilloma virus (HPV) was low among students in three teacher training colleges in Nyeri.

"The level of knowledge about HPV vaccination and its role in the prevention of cervical cancer was low among the student-teachers. The majority of them did not have sufficient information to guide their future pupils about the issue," the researchers noted.

During the research carried out in Kamwenja, Kagumo and Othaya teachers training colleges, 413 trainee teachers participated. Only 12 had been vaccinated against HPV, out of which only one was a male student.

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"While nearly 70 per cent were aware of cervical cancer and about 60 per cent identified HPV as a causative agent, only about 20 per cent were aware of HPV vaccination," the researchers said.

They further stated that only one out of every 25 students believed they had sufficient information to offer to their future pupils about HPV vaccination.

"It is vital that these trainees should be properly educated about the timing and benefits of HPV vaccination to increase the rate of HPV immunisation among pre-pubertal girls and boys in Kenya," the researchers recommended.

In Kenya, up to 80 per cent of adolescents and sexually active adult women are at risk of contracting HPV.

Two strains of the virus account for up to seven out of 10 cases of cervical cancer in the country, which caused 2,451 reported deaths last year. More than 4,800 cases of the cancer are reported annually.

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Kenya Medical Research InstituteHPVCervical CancerTeachersVaccine