Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States yet is one of the least recognized among the general public. HPV awareness may be relatively low among minority women. Because HPV awareness is associated with uptake of the HPV vaccine, it is critical to assess HPV awareness in the population and identify any racial/ethnic gaps. Methods: This study used nationally representative data collected by the National Survey of Family Growth between July 2007 and December 2008. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to determine the independent effect of race/ethnicity on HPV awareness while controlling for sociodemographic and clinical confounders in a sample of 4088 women. Stratified multivariable analysis was also conducted to assess the relationship between race/ethnicity and HPV awareness among women in different age groups. Results: After adjusting for confounders, Hispanic and black women overall were significantly less likely to have heard of HPV compared to white women (odds ratio [OR] 0.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.29-0.54 and OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.29-0.54, respectively). Black women aged 15-18 and Hispanic women aged 19-26 had particularly low rates of HPV awareness (OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.07-0.43 and OR 0.18, 95% CI 0.11-0.30, respectively) compared to white women of the same ages. Conclusions: Hispanic and black women have significantly lower levels of HPV awareness than white women. Targeted educational efforts will be important to improve HPV awareness and associated preventive health measures to avoid HPV-related morbidity and mortality.
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