Sexually Transmitted Infections Vol. 87: P. 548-552 (12..11) -
The current study aimed to assess the feasibility and
acceptance of a postal survey to measure prevalence of human
papillomavirus (HPV) and monitor vaccine impact, using self-
collected specimens from young women who do not attend their
first cervical screening appointment.
Focus groups were used to help identify factors that would
influence survey acceptability, and the kits were mailed to a
nationally representative sample of unscreened women. Overall
response rate, the influence of different specimen types
(urine or vaginal swab), and the receipt of a reminder letter
on participation were calculated. Specimens were tested
anonymously for HPV; individual test results were not
Of 5,500 kits mailed, 725 (13.2 percent) were returned; 52
women actively opted out. A higher return rate was seen for
urine kits (13.7 percent vs. 12 percent) and among those who
received a reminder letter (15.5 percent vs. 12.2 percent).
Deprivation influenced response rates, which were 10.3 percent
in the most deprived quintile vs. 16.2 percent in the least.
Overall weighted HPV prevalence was 35.9 percent (40.0 percent
from swab collection and 31.9 percent from urine).
"Some women were willing to participate in anonymized postal
testing. However, the low uptake means that HPV prevalence
results are difficult to interpret for ongoing surveillance,"
the study authors concluded. "Monitoring HPV vaccine impact
[outside] the cervical screening program remains challenging."