Papanicolaou test screening and prevalence of genital human papillomavirus among women who have sex with women

Am J Public Health. 2001 Jun;91(6):947-52. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.6.947.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine frequency of and attitudes toward Papanicolaou (Pap) test screening in women who have sex with women (WSW) and to determine prevalence of genital human papillomavirus (HPV).

Methods: Women were eligible if they reported having engaged in sex with another woman in the preceding year Medical and sexual histories were obtained. Cervical specimens for Pap tests and cervical and vaginal specimens for HPV DNA testing were collected.

Results: HPV DNA was detected in 31 of 248 WSW (13%). Women who had never had sex with men were less likely to have undergone pelvic examinations and had fewer recent Pap tests. Reasons for not undergoing Pap tests included lack of insurance, previous adverse experiences, and belief that Pap tests were unnecessary.

Conclusions: Despite the occurrence of genital HPV, WSW do not receive adequate Pap test screening. Pap test screening recommendations should not differ for WSW, regardless of sexual history with men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*
  • Washington / epidemiology