Objective: The incidence of anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and of HPV-related disease in men who have sex with men continues to rise. Screening procedures can be uncomfortable and may lead to decreased patient compliance. We endeavored to determine the tolerability of screening procedures for anal HPV disease.
Materials and Methods: This was a 2-visit screening study. On visit 1 (V1), cells for cytology (using a swab) and HPV testing (randomized to a brush or swab) were collected, followed by digital rectal examination and standard anoscopy. At visit 2 (V2), patients had repeated HPV sampling (brush or swab) and high-resolution anoscopy with biopsy where indicated. Patients reported discomfort of procedures (0–5) and complications.
Results: Visit 1 standard anoscopy caused the most discomfort (mean = 1.90). Visit 2 biopsy caused the least discomfort (mean = 1.04). The mean discomfort difference between V1 HPV sampling with swab (1.56) and brush (1.86) was significant (p = .03) but not at V2. The mean difference between V2 HPV brush (1.63) and V1 brush (1.86) discomfort was significant (p = .02), but there was no significant difference for V1 and V2 swab. There was no discomfort difference between standard anoscopy and high-resolution anoscopy (p = .14). All patients who reported at V1 that the discomfort would prevent them from having procedure again returned for V2. There was no significant difference in bleeding or pain after V1 for brush or swab.
Conclusions: Screening procedures for anal HPV-related disease were well tolerated, and no single procedure or HPV sampling device reduced patient compliance.