, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 917-926
Date: 03 Feb 2012

Assessing the Effectiveness of a Community-Based Sensitization Strategy in Creating Awareness About HPV, Cervical Cancer and HPV Vaccine Among Parents in North West Cameroon

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In 2010, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) received a donation of HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) to immunize girls of ages 9–13 years in the North West Region of Cameroon. We evaluated the effectiveness of the CBCHS campaign program in sensitizing parents/guardians to encourage HPV vaccine uptake, identified factors that influence parents’ decisions to vaccinate girls, and examined the uptake of cervical cancer screening among mothers. We conducted a cross-sectional survey in four healthcare facilities run by CBCHS, churches and other social settings. A total of 350 questionnaires were distributed and 317 were used for the analysis. There were high levels of awareness about cervical cancer, HPV and HPV vaccine. 75.5% understood HPV is sexually transmitted and 90.3% were aware of the use of vaccine as a preventive measure. Effectiveness of the vaccine (31.8%) and side effects/safety (18.4%) were the major barriers for parents to vaccinate their daughters. Bivariate analysis further revealed that the level of education (p = 0.0006), income level (p = 0.0044) and perceived risks (p = 0.0044) are additional factors influencing parents’ decisions to vaccinate girls. 35.3% of women had sought a cervical cancer screening, significantly higher than the general estimated rate of screening (<10%) in other parts of Cameroon and sub-Saharan Africa. These results support the viability of a community-tailored sensitization strategy to increase awareness among the targeted audience of parents/guardians, who are critical decision-makers for vaccine delivery to children.