Human Papillomavirus Knowledge and Attitude among Homeless Women of New York City Shelters

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Women's Health Issues








© 2015 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) has not been studied among homeless women in the United States. We assessed knowledge and attitudes regarding HPV infection and the HPV vaccine among homeless women. Methods: We enrolled 300 homeless women age 19 to 65 residing in multiple New York City shelters from 2012 to 2014. We used a national survey to collect HPV data. Results: Mean age was 44.7 ± 12.16 years. The majority were Black, heterosexual, and single; 50.6% were smokers. Almost all HPV knowledge and attitudes data were considerably below the national averages; 41.9% never heard of HPV. Only 36.5% knew that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease; 41.5% knew that HPV causes cervical cancer; and only 19.5% and 17.3% received provider counseling regarding HPV testing and vaccine, respectively. Among participants, 65.4% reported that they would vaccinate their eligible daughters for HPV. Lower rates of up-to-date Pap tests were associated with a lack of knowledge regarding relationship between HPV and abnormal Pap test (p < .01). Conclusions: We recommend improved HPV counseling by providers during any clinical encounter to reduce missed opportunities, coupled with employing patient teaching coach or navigators to improve health literacy and to connect patients to services regarding HPV and cervical cancer.