Infectious Disease


Developing Anal Cancer Screening Techniques in HIV Positive Women

Ann B. Williams, R.N., M.S.N., Ed.D.

Ann B. Williams, Ed.D., R.N.C., FAAN, Professor of Nursing (Yale School of Nursing)

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been associated with both anal and cervical cancers. Research designed to develop a cost effective method of anal cancer screening would be of particular benefit to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-positive women who are at high-risk of HPV infection and cervical disease. Dr. Williams received funding to examine the prevalence of HPV in HIV-positive women, and determine the feasibility of anal cellular screening of HPV and the identification of pre-cancerous anal lesions in HIV-infected women.

Highlighted Study Findings

The study’s results indicated that 64% of the HIV-positive women studied were also HPV-positive. This suggests that, as a group, HIV-infected women are at increased risk of anal cancer. Since the mechanisms of cervical and anal cancer appear to be similar, a common prevention approach for the two types of cancer may be valuable and cost effective. The researchers also identified clinical indicators to assist in the detection of women who are at high-risk of anal cancer, without having to use an anal pap smear. Research designed to develop a cost effective method of anal HPV screening is of particular benefit to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-positive women who are at high-risk for anal cancer.