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HPV Vaccination among Polish Adolescents-Results from POLKA 18 Study.

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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer and genital warts and constitutes one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Cervical cancer is the only reproductive cancer that has a primary prevention programme through the introduction of HPV vaccinations. Even though the majority of European countries have nationally funded HPV vaccination programmes, in Poland these are exclusively local and scarcely funded. Moreover, the majority of local programmes are directed to females only. Meanwhile, Poland has one of the highest cervical cancer incidence rates among high income countries. The aim of this study was to measure HPV vaccination levels among final-year students in Poland and to establish the association between vaccination status and gender, region and level of sexual education received. This study is a part of the POLKA 18 Study, which used original self-reported paper-based questionnaires distributed in schools in six Polish regions. The study was conducted between April and December 2019. The obtained data were analysed in STATA 17. In total, 2701 fully completed questionnaires were collected. Over half of the respondents (58.2%) did not know their HPV vaccination status. Only 16.0% of the respondents replied that they have been vaccinated against HPV (18.2% of females and 14.5% of males). There was no direct association between vaccination status and access to ‘family life education’ classes. The vaccination level significantly differed among the different regions of Poland (p < 0.0001), with the Śląskie and Wielkopolskie regions achieving the highest rates. At least a quarter of adolescents after their sexual debut have not been vaccinated against HPV. Regions with immunization programmes introduced to their provincial capitals had higher vaccination rates. Our findings indicate the need for the introduction of state-funded vaccination programmes at the national level for the vaccination rate to increase, which will have the potential to decrease cervical cancer incidence in the country.



HPV, adolescent health, cervical cancer

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Healthcare (Basel)

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European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (P-2018-B-03)