The Knowledge of Female Students Regarding the Human Papilloma Virus and Vaccines at a Selected University in South Africa

Matodzi P. Mushasha1, Ntsieni S. Mashau1, *, Dorah U. Ramathuba2
1 Department of Public Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
2 Department of Advanced Nursing Science, School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

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© 2021 Mushasha et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Public Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa; Tel: 015 962 8892; Mobile: 082 871 0586; E-mail:



The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the viruses that causes high mortality rates worldwide, and if not detected and treated early, it may lead to fatal complications such as cervical cancer and breast cancer.


The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge of female students regarding the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and its vaccines at a selected University in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.


A quantitative approach was adopted in this cross-sectional descriptive study. The target population was all female students residing in the university residences on campus, and a sample size of 310 students was determined. A systematic sampling technique was used to select the rooms of students, and a self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data. Data collected was analysed using SPSS version 26, and results were presented in the form of frequency and percentages.


Out of the 310 respondents, 56.8% had never heard about the HPV, while 43.2% had heard about the HPV and its vaccines. The majority (82.9%) of the respondents were uncertain about the two HPV vaccines available in South Africa, while only 1.9% of the respondents knew that anal cancer is one of the health problems related to HPV. The results of the study further showed that 56.8% of the respondents did not know whether the HPV vaccines prevented cervical cancer or not, while only 6.1% disagreed that the HPV vaccines prevented cervical cancer.


The study concludes that the female students at the selected university had insufficient knowledge regarding HPV and its vaccines. Since cervical cancer is one of the major causes of death in low and middle-income countries, knowledge regarding HPV and its vaccines is crucial, especially among the young generation, in order to promote the effective prevention of cervical cancer. Community and university radios should have programs about health promotion issues informing the communities about HPV and its vaccines.

Keywords: Cervical cancer, Human papillomavirus, Human papillomavirus vaccines, Female Students, Population, Health promotion.