Journal of Undergraduate Research


college students, religious beliefs, human papillomavirus vaccination


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Most religions promote abstinence of sexual intimacy prior to marriage. This ideology may discount the use of vaccinations that religious individuals consider only applicable to those who are sexually active. These individuals may not take the time to investigate the benefits of such vaccinations and indeed may not even be aware of the risks associated with the infections these vaccinations protect against. Specifically, this study examined how religious beliefs impact knowledge about, and attitudes and intention towards human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV vaccination adherence. HPV vaccination is recommended for youth between ages 9 and 13 but not to be administered later than 26 years of age. Most college-age students should have obtained the vaccination if adherent to recommendations. HPV puts women at a heightened risk for oral, anal, and vaginal cancers and is the highest predictor for the onset of cervical cancer. Although men are less affected physiologically, both genders are capable of carrying and transmitting the virus to future partners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the national averages for completing HPV vaccination in girls and boys are 41.9% and 28.1%, respectively. In Idaho and Utah, rates drop below the national average: 24.6% for girls, and 19.9% for boys. The same lower rates are seen in the Evangelical South where rates hover around 40% compliance. Religious attitudes and behavior may be potential factors.

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