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Most Irish adults don't understand what HPV is, says new study

The study comes as boys are to be included in the national HPV immunisation programme.

Image: Shutterstock/OneSideProFoto

THREE OUT OF four adults don’t fully understand what HPV is, according to a new study. 

A study has found that 75% of people don’t understand what HPV – the Human Papilloma Virus – is. This is despite the fact that HPV is incredibly common, with 80% of people likely to contract it at some stage of their lives. 

The research, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes and commissioned by pharmaceutical company MSD Ireland, polled 1,000 people ahead of the inclusion of boys in the HPV immunisation programme for the first time. 

The study found that 84% of people believe that it’s unlikely they have ever contracted or had HPV, with 25% believing that it’s impossible. 

“The HPV virus is so common most men and women are infected by it at some point in their lives. In many cases, infection leads to cancer,” CEO of the Irish Cancer Society, Averil Power, said. 

Power urged parents to ensure that their children get the HPV vaccine. 

The research found that 32% of people were unaware that HPV can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, while 53% of all adults polled said they weren’t worried about their son contracting HPV. 

Over 40% said they were not worried about their daughter coming into contact with HPV. 

Liz Yeates, the CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation, said there was “work still to be done”. 

“We must continue to build the public’s knowledge of HPV, what it is, how it is transmitted and what we can do to help prevent HPV infection,” she said. 

However, the polling did find that there has been a 17% increase in general public awareness that HPV can infect boys and girls, with 70% of respondents agreeing that men and women should be vaccinated against it. 

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