Hong Kong Women Lack Knowledge About Cervical Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

Women and girls in Hong Kong have misconceptions and lack knowledgeabout cervical cancer, but most women said they would be willing toreceive a human papillomavirus vaccination after they were informedabout it, according to a survey released Tuesday by researchers at Hong Kong University, Hong Kong's Standard reports (Jiang, Standard,8/21). For the study, HKU researchers from April 2006 to July 2007 senta questionnaire to 1,413 women and conducted two focus groups involving113 women and girls ages 13 to 58.

The survey found that 39%of the women could answer correctly at least four of seven questionsabout HPV and that 33% percent could answer correctly at least nine of18 questions about cervical cancer (Benitez, South China Morning Post,8/21). According to the findings, many women attributed cervical cancerto environmental and lifestyle factors, including air pollution,radiation or eating too much fast food. About 81% of the respondentscorrectly identified having multiple sexual partners as a risk factorfor developing cervical cancer.


More than 50% of therespondents said they had not heard of an HPV vaccine, but 87% saidthey would consider being vaccinated if they had more information aboutthe vaccine. The survey also found that most mothers in the focusgroups would support having their daughters vaccinated (Standard,8/21). More than half of teenage girls surveyed said they would bewilling to receive an HPV vaccine, but many said they did not see apressing need to do so, according to Peter Lee Wing-ho, a professor atHKU's psychiatry department (South China Morning Post, 8/21).


Hextan Ngan Yuen-sheung -- professor of gynecology at HKU and chair of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong-- said cost might be the deciding factor in receiving an HPV vaccine,particularly for younger girls. The three-dose vaccine costs at least3,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $380. "With better public education aboutcervical cancer and the HPV virus, I'm confident that most women wouldaccept the vaccine," Ngan said (Standard, 8/21).

Shesaid she hoped the government would look into including the vaccine inchild immunization programs. A spokesperson with the Hong Kong Department of Health said the agency has no plans to include the vaccine (South China Morning Post, 8/21). There were 439 new cases of cervical cancer in Hong Kong in 2004, and 128 deaths resulted from the disease (The Standard, 8/21).

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