Objective: The objectives of this study were to determine women’s knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) and anal cancer and knowledge and attitudes toward the anal Pap test.
Materials and Methods: A convenience sample of 370 women from the general population 21 years or older completed a 48-question preintervention survey; read an informational pamphlet about anal cancer, HPV, and anal Pap tests; and then completed a 21-question postintervention survey in Augusta, Atlanta, and Savannah, GA. The survey assessed their knowledge about anal cancer, HPV, and the anal Pap test and determined their attitudes toward the anal Pap test. Only preintervention results were considered in this article. Descriptive statistics were determined for all variables.
Results: Only 17.6% of women had previously heard of anal Pap tests, and the majority knew nothing (48.9%) or only a little (38.5%) about anal cancer. Yet, most women (78.6%) knew that anal Pap tests help to prevent anal cancer, and 86.2% knew that anal Pap tests are not only for people who have anal sex. Only a minority of women recognized known risk factors for anal cancer. Lack of knowledge about anal Pap tests (43.8%), pain or discomfort (41.3%), cost (24.0%), and embarrassment (21.2%) were the main reasons cited for not wanting an anal Pap test.
Conclusions: Although most women had limited knowledge about anal cancer and anal Pap tests and few recognized known risk factors for anal cancer, women were receptive to screening. Further implementation of anal Pap testing for women may be improved by understanding women’s limited knowledge and concerns.