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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

ARGENTINA: Lack of Information Raises Risk of Cervical Cancer


Inter Press Service (03.29.12) - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Argentinean women know little about cervical cancer, and most have a "complete lack of knowledge" that human papillomavirus is one of its leading causes, according to a new study.

Free HPV vaccination is mandatory for 11-year-old girls, yet cervical cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women ages 35-64. Pap tests can detect pre-cancerous lesions and save lives when followed by proper medical treatment. However, Argentina's Health Ministry reported in 2009 that only 46 percent of northern province women 35-64 were tested within two years of the survey.

Author Dr. Silvina Arrossi, scientific coordinator of the National Cervical Cancer Prevention Program, said the study aimed "to find out about women's perceptions and knowledge" of cervical cancer to "incorporate their views into prevention strategies." The study, "What Women Think: Knowledge and Perceptions About Cervical Cancer and the Pap Test," focused on women in Buenos Aires (Argentina's most populous province) and the northern provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Misiones, and Chaco, which have Argentina's highest cervical cancer mortality rates.

The interviews uncovered a range of misunderstandings, including that cervical cancer can lie dormant until "awakened" by invasive action - including a Pap test; and that older, sexually inactive women who feel fine do not need Pap tests. Most cited TV and radio as information sources, not the health system.

Arrossi's team's findings formed the basis of a photo-novella about a daughter who convinces her mother to continue having Pap tests despite her age. Recommendations also were made for health centers to have female personnel onsite to conduct Pap tests to preserve patients' modesty. Personnel also will be trained to engage women in a dialogue versus just distributing pamphlets.


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Information in this article was accurate in April 10, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.