HPV knowledge, screening barriers and facilitators, and sources of health information among women living with HIV: perspectives from the DC community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC women's health








HPV knowledge; Screening; Sources of health information


BACKGROUND: High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 99% of cervical cancer cases. Despite available prevention methods through the HPV vaccine and two screening modalities, women continue to die from cervical cancer worldwide. Cervical cancer is preventable, yet affects a great number of women living with HIV (WLH). Low screening rates among WLH further exacerbate their already high risk of developing cervical cancer due to immunosuppression. This study explores WLH's current cervical cancer knowledge, screening barriers and facilitators, and sources of health information. METHODS: Focus group discussions were conducted with 39 WLH aged 21 years old or older, who resided in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Emergent themes were classified and organized into overarching domains and assembled with representative quotations. RESULTS: The women had limited knowledge of HPV and the cervical cancer screening guidelines for WLH. Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has amplified screening barriers due to decreased accessibility to usual medical appointment and cervical cancer screenings. Screening facilitators included knowing someone diagnosed with cervical cancer and provider recommendations. WLH indicated that they obtained health information through in-person education (providers, peer groups) and written literature. Due to the pandemic, they also had to increasingly rely on remote and technology-based communication channels such as the internet, social media, television, radio, email, and short message service (SMS) text messaging. CONCLUSIONS: Future health interventions need to explore the possibility of sharing messages and increasing cervical cancer and HPV knowledge of WLH through the use of SMS and other technology-based channels.


Nursing Faculty Publications