Eligibility and willingness of young Icelandic women to participate in a HPV vaccination trial



Background and aims. Cervical cancer is an important health problem worldwide, and the incidence of preinvasive cervical cancer is increasing among young sexually active women. The causal association between human papilloma virus (HPV) and cervical cancer makes it theoretically possible to eradicate the disease through vaccination. The aim of this study was to analyze the eligibility and willingness of 18–23-year-old Icelandic women to participate in a vaccination trial to prevent HPV infection and to assess knowledge of HPV.

Material and methods. A questionnaire was formulated with questions on demographics, HPV knowledge, sexual behavior, attitude towards HPV vaccination, and other health-related issues. The questionnaire was tested on a subgroup of women before being mailed to 300 women aged 18–23 years, randomly selected by date of birth from the total population living in the Capital area of Reykjavík.

Results. The response rate of the mailed questionnaire was 54%. Of respondents, 96% reported having had sexual debut and 39% were aged 15 years or younger at first intercourse. Knowledge of HPV infections and associated diseases was limited, indicating the need for an educational campaign. Although 60% of the respondents were willing to participate in a HPV vaccination trial, the eligibility rate for the invited women was estimated to be approximately 13% (95% CI: 9–17%) after accounting for various exclusion criteria such as number of sexual partners, abnormal Pap smears, planning a pregnancy, or travelling abroad for more than 6 months.

Conclusions. Icelandic women between 18 and 23 years of age have a sexual behavior profile and lifestyle that may decrease their eligibility in future prophylactic HPV vaccine trials. Improved education about HPV infection and its consequences is needed. Future trials may need to include younger women to improve recruitment.