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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2006 June;58(3):233-8

language: Italian

Knowledge and use of Pap-smear among HIV-positive women

Pavia C. 1, Navarra A. 1, Pisani G. 2, Piselli P. 1, Koehler B. 1, Angeletti C. 1, Ippolito G. 1, Serraino D. 1

1 Dipartimento di Epidemiologia INMI Lazzaro Spallanzani, IRCCS, Roma
2 Unità di Ostetricia e Ginecologia Azienda Ospedaliera San Camillo, Roma


Aim. HIV-positive women are at increased risk for preneoplastic lesions and invasive cervical cancer (ICC). The occurrence of these lesions can be substantially reduced by appropriate cervico-vaginal screening protocols (i.e., Pap-test). The aim of study was to assess: 1) awareness of Pap-smear and 2) the association between awareness of Pap-smear and screening attitudes of HIV-positive women.
Methods. Three-hundred and ninety HIV-positive women who attended the HIV outpatient gynecological unit of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, Rome, from January 2003 to April 2005 were included in this investigation. These 390 women were interviewed to assess whether they were aware that Pap-test was a preventive tool against cervical cancer. In addition, past history of Pap-test, socioeconomic condition, history of HIV infection, and sexual habits were investigated. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to assess the association between knowledge of Pap-test and covariates.
Results. Of these 390 HIV-positive women, 54.6% were not aware that Pap-test could prevent ICC. Women with a low educational level (OR = 6.6) or women who originated from Africa (OR = 6.5) were more likely to be unaware of Pap-test. Lack of Pap-test awareness was strongly associated with negative history for lifetime Pap-test (OR = 4.7).
Conclusion. We showed that a large proportion of HIV-infected women are not aware that ICC could be prevented through Pap-test screening, and that lack of Pap-test screening is strongly associated with lack of awareness. The need for Pap-test counseling targeted to HIV-infected women clearly emerges from our findings.

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