Characteristics Associated with HPV Diagnosis and Perceived Risk for Cervical Cancer Among Unmarried, Sexually Active College Women

Kelly L. Wilson, Clayton J. Cowart, Brittany L. Rosen, Jairus C. Pulczinski, Kayce D. Solari, Marcia G. Ory, Matthew Lee Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been identified as the leading cause of cervical cancer. While HPV risk factors have been well studied, less is known about those with HPV and their perceptions about health ramifications. The purposes of this study were to examine unmarried college student women’s (1) HPV diagnosis status and (2) perceived risk of getting cervical cancer in the next 5 years. Data were analyzed from 1106 unmarried, sexually active college women aged 18 to 26. Binary logistic regression compared HPV-related knowledge, vaccination-related perceptions, mandate support, healthcare utilization, sexual behaviors, and personal characteristics. Multinomial logistic regression was performed to assess the degree to which these factors were associated with perceived risk of cervical cancer diagnosis. Relative to those not diagnosed with HPV, participants who had more lifetime sex partners (P < 0.001), unprotected sex during last intercourse (P = 0.003), Pap test in the past year (P < 0.001), and perceived themselves to be at higher risk for cervical cancer (P < 0.001) were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with HPV. Those with HPV were more likely to support HPV vaccination mandates (P = 0.036) and have fewer friends vaccinated (P = 0.002). Participants who were uninsured (P = 0.011), diagnosed with HPV (P < 0.001), and had a family member (P < 0.001) or friend (P < 0.001) with cervical cancer were more likely to perceive themselves at risk for developing cervical cancer in the next 5 years. Findings indicate women with HPV, despite engaging in risky sexual behaviors, acknowledge their cervical cancer risk and may be strong advocates for HPV vaccination mandates to protect youth against this preventable virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-416
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Cervical cancer
  • HPV
  • HPV vaccination mandates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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