• Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of cervical cancer prevention and pap smears in two low-income communities in Lima, Peru

      Miles, Thomas T; Riley-Powell, Amy R; Lee, Gwenyth O; Gotlieb, Esther E; Barth, Gabriela C; Tran, Emma Q; Ortiz, Katherine; Huaynate, Cynthia Anticona; Cabrera, Lilia; Gravitt, Patti E; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-04-21)
      Background: Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death among Peruvian women. Barriers at multiple levels impact effective screening and treatment, including a lack of knowledge about cervical cancer and how regular screening can reduce morbidity and mortality through earlier detection. The aim of this study is to assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding cervical cancer and its prevention in the peri-urban communities of Oasis and Pampas in southern Lima, Peru that can be used to inform future campaigns about cervical cancer prevention. Methods: A cross-sectional survey that included several open-ended questions was administered to women in Pampas and Oasis between 2015 and 2016 to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding cervical cancer and Pap smears. Results: In total, 224 women were interviewed. Knowledge about cervical cancer and Pap smears was high, and attitudes were predominantly positive among most participants. Most participants knew how often they should get Pap smears (89.7%), when to begin seeking screening (74.6%), knew the price of a Pap smear (61.9%), and felt Pap smears were important for their health (70.1%). About one third (29.5%) of premenopausal women reported receiving a Pap smear in the last year. However, open ended questions revealed some knowledge gaps around Pap smears, as well as some stigma associated to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. Conclusion: Although knowledge of cervical cancer prevention was generally high and perceptions were positive among women in peri-urban Peruvian communities, our findings revealed there is a need for education on HPV infection prevalence among sexually active individuals to reduce stigma. Future research should focus on exploring experiences with follow-up and treatment associated with abnormal Pap smears, as well as perspectives from health authorities and professionals about barriers in the early detection and treatment process for cervical cancer.