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Print version ISSN 1657-5997


TAMAYO-ACEVEDO, Lucía Stella; GIL-CANO, Paola Andrea  and  TAMAYO-ACEVEDO, Luz Elena. What You Can't See Does Not Exist: What College Students Think about Cancer and the Human Papillomavirus. Medellín, Colombia, 2014. Aquichan [online]. 2015, vol.15, n.2, pp.253-270. ISSN 1657-5997.

Objective: Understand what undergraduate students at the University of Antioquia think about cervical, anal, oropharyngeal and penile cancer, and how they associate these types of cancer with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Materials and Methods: This is an ethnographic study conducted during the period from March 2013 to April 2014. It included 23 women and 14 men who were divided into eight discussion groups. What they had to say was recorded, transcribed and analyzed using the argumentative method. Findings: Overall, the young people who took part in the study associate HPV with cervical cancer, but not with anal, oropharyngeal and penile cancer. In fact, they had little knowledge or knew nothing about those types of cancer. Thinking that women are the ones who contract cervical cancer and infect men with HPV prevented them from imagining there might be other types of cancer associated with HPV infection. Conclusion: Ignorance among women about other types of cancer associated with HPV infection might cause them to neglect preventive measures and increase the risk of infection through sexual practices. The study ratifies the need to develop programs to promote health and to prevent infection with this virus.

Keywords : Young adult; qualitative research; papillomavirus infections; neoplasia; social perception.

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