Preferences for Human Papillomavirus Testing with Routine Cervical Cancer Screening in Diverse Older Women

  • Alison J. Huang
  • Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable
  • Sue E. Kim
  • Sabrina T. Wong
  • Celia P. Kaplan
  • Judith M. E. Walsh
  • A. Yuri Iwaoka-Scott
  • George F. Sawaya
Original Article



Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is increasingly being used to determine the optimal cervical cancer screening interval in older women. Little is known about women’s attitudes toward HPV testing or how these attitudes may influence medical discussions about cervical cancer screening.


Preferences for HPV and concomitant Papanicolaou (Pap) testing were assessed through in-person interviews with diverse women aged 50 to 80 years recruited from community and university-based practices.


Eight hundred and sixty-five women (257 White, 87 African American, 149 Latina, and 372 Asian) were interviewed. Approximately 60% of participants wanted to be tested for HPV and another 15% would undergo testing if recommended by their physician. Among those wanting HPV testing, 94% would want more frequent than annual Pap tests if they had a positive HPV test and a normal Pap test. Two thirds of those under age 65 would be willing to switch to triennial Pap testing, and half of those aged 65 and older would be willing to discontinue Pap testing, if they had a negative HPV test and normal Pap test. Preferences for testing varied by ethnicity, age, place of birth, and cancer history.


The majority of older women were willing to use HPV testing to make decisions about frequency and duration of cervical cancer screening, but up to one third would want at least annual, ongoing screening regardless of HPV test results. Efforts should be made to ensure that HPV testing is used to reinforce appropriate utilization of screening tests.


human papillomavirus cervical cancer screening ethnicity Papanicolaou test 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison J. Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Sue E. Kim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sabrina T. Wong
    • 2
    • 3
  • Celia P. Kaplan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Judith M. E. Walsh
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Yuri Iwaoka-Scott
    • 4
  • George F. Sawaya
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse PopulationsUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.University of British Columbia School of NursingVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive SciencesUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.University of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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