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INTRODUCTION: Current UK guidelines for cervical cancer screening are based on the assumption that most women living with HIV (WLWH) are also high-risk (HR) human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive. We aimed to provide data on prevalence of HR-HPV in WLWH in the UK and to assess feasibility and acceptability of HR-HPV self-sampling in this group. METHODS: Women living with HIV attending six HIV services in London/south of England, with no history of cervical cancer, were enrolled. Participants self-collected a vaginal swab for the detection of HR-HPV, completed a survey about sexual/gynaecological history, attitudes towards annual screening and perception of HR-HPV self-sampling, and were asked to have their annual cervical smear. RESULTS: In all, 67 women were included: 86.5% were of black ethnicity, the median (range) age was 47 (24-60) years, median CD4 T-cell count was 683 cells/µL [interquartile range (IQR): 527-910], and 95.4% had viral load ≤ 50 copies/mL. All performed the vaginal swab. Eighteen (27%) had no cervical smear results; none of these women attended HIV services where this was routinely offered. No cervical samples were positive for HR-HPV. Three-quarters (75.8%) of participants reported adherence to annual screening, with only one woman (1.5%) attending irregularly. On visual analogue scales (from 0 to 100), median (IQR) acceptability and necessity of smear tests were 100 (75-100) and 100 (85-100), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the prevalence of HR-HPV in WLWH in the UK may be low. Self-sampling seems to be acceptable, suggesting, if validated, its potential role in supporting less frequent smear testing and improving screening uptake in WLWH.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





390 - 396


HIV, HR-HPV, cervical cancer screening, self-sampling