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Knowledge and attitudes about human papillomavirus, Pap smears, and cervical cancer among young women in Brazil: implications for health education and prevention
  1. JR E. D. Moreira*,,
  2. B. G. Oliveira*,,
  3. F. M. Ferraz*,,
  4. S. Costa,
  5. J O Costa Filho and
  6. G. Karic
  1. *Núcleo de Apoio
  2. àPesquisa, Fundação Irmã Dulce, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
  3. Centro de Pesquisas Gonçalo Moniz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
  4. Laboratórios Merck, Sharp & Dohme, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Edson Duarte Moreira Jr, MD, PhD, Rua Waldemar Falcão 121, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil CEP 40.295-001. Email: edson{at}


The objective of the study was to assess knowledge and attitudes about human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer, and Papanicolaou (Pap) smears among young women. A questionnaire was administered to 204 women aged 16–23 years, attending a public clinic. Data were gathered on sociodemographic characteristics, knowledge, and attitudes related to HPV. Overall, 92% of women reported current/previous sexual activity, 42% perceived themselves at high risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, 67% did not know that HPV can cause cervical cancer/warts, and only 10% acknowledged that HPV might lead to cervical cancer. In general, women had a poor knowledge on HPV diagnosis/treatment, condyloma signs, and Pap smear test. The main reasons for not having a Pap smear test done before were embarrassment (63%) and fear of pain (61%). Knowledge of HPV infection and cervical cancer was low in this urban young population. Our findings recommend for greater HPV education of the public and health care practitioners.

  • cervical cancer
  • genital warts
  • human papillomavirus
  • knowledge
  • Pap smear screening
  • young women

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