Genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States (U.S.). Thirteen subtypes can lead to cervical cancer. The risk of contracting HPV is directly correlated with the number of lifetime sexual partners. Prior studies have found that street-based female sex workers (FSW) in the U.S. have on average over 650 partners per year, suggesting a significant risk of HPV infection and possible progression to cervical cancer. Prior studies done with the general U.S. female population have shown 58% are aware of HPV and HPV vaccination; 74% know it is an STI; and 93% know it can cause cervical cancer. Little research has been published on this knowledge in FSW. Our study aimed to determine the baseline knowledge of HPV in FSW in Albuquerque and determine if it correlated with demographic data.
We surveyed 76 English-speaking adult FSW who sought syringe-exchange services at a street-outreach program in Albuquerque, N.M. We used a previously validated 29-question survey on knowledge of HPV, HPV testing and HPV vaccination, and collected demographic information on the population that included a health-literacy measure (REALM).
Data were analyzed using STATAdvisor. Analysis of student t-test were used to compare means of the HPV Awareness Survey (KTV score) scores among categorical and numerical variables. The Bonferroni inequality was used to adjust for multiple, planned comparisons. Two-tailed tests were used throughout. KTV score from our population showed an average total score of 66% (+/-10%), which included items on HPV awareness (65%); vaccine knowledge (67%; +/-18%); knowledge that HPV is an STI (67%); and knowledge that HPV can cause cervical cancer (83%). Additionally, there was a direct correlation between REALM score to total KTV scores (P=.0031, R-squared 11%).
Although overall awareness of HPV was higher in this FSW population compared to similar studies in the general population, significant gaps in HPV knowledge remain including that HPV is a STI and can cause cervical cancer. This information will inform educational outreach activities.
Acknowledgements: Anna Kristina Vestling, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. For biostatistics, epidemiology and research support, we acknowledge UNM Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) (grant UL1TR001449)
J. Silva, None
M. Iandiorio, None
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