Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer and genital warts.
The aim of this systematic literature review was to provide an overview of knowledge
about HPV infection among the public, students, patients and health professionals.
PubMed searches were performed and the results of studies were reported by age, gender,
study population, country, recruitment score and year of study conduct. The recruitment
score covered the mode of recruitment, study size and response rate.
We included 39 studies published between 1992 and 2006 covering a total of 19,986
participants. The proportion of participants who had heard of HPV varied from 13%
to 93%. Understanding that HPV is a risk factor for cervical cancer depended on whether
the question was closed (8-68%) or open (0.6-11%). Between 5% and 83% knew about the
association of HPV and (genital) warts. HPV was often mistaken with other sexually
transmitted viruses. Health professionals and women had better knowledge about HPV
than other participants.
Overall, the knowledge of the general public about HPV infection is poor. Efforts
should be increased to give sufficient and unbiased information on HPV infection to
the general public.