PloS one 2018 03 1413(3) e0190172 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0190172
High-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) causes virtually all cervical cancers. Trans masculine (TM) people (those assigned female at birth who identify with a gender other than female) have low uptake of conventional cervical cancer screening. Self-collected hrHPV DNA testing has high levels of acceptability among cisgender (non-transgender) females and may support increased cervical cancer screening uptake in TM individuals.
To assess the test performance and acceptability of self-collected vaginal specimens in comparison to provider-collected cervical swabs for hrHPV DNA detection in TM individuals ages 21-64 years.
Between March 2015-September 2016, 150 TM participants with a cervix (mean age = 27.5 years; SD = 5.7) completed a one-time study visit comprised of a self-report survey, self-collected vaginal HPV DNA swab, clinician-administered cervical HPV swab, and brief interview on acceptability of clinical procedures. Participants were randomized to complete either self- or provider-collection first to minimize ordering effects. Self- and provider-collected samples were tested for 13 hrHPV DNA types using a DNA Hybridization Assay. The primary outcome variable was the concordance (kappa statistic) and performance (sensitivity, specificity) of self-collected vaginal HPV DNA specimens versus provider-collected cervical HPV swabs as the gold standard.
Of the 131 participants completing both the self- and provider-collected HPV tests, 21 cases of hrHPV were detected by the provider cervical swab (gold standard; 16.0% hrHPV prevalence); 15 of these cases were accurately detected by the self-collected vaginal swab (71.4% concordance) (Kappa = 0.75, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.59, 0.92; p<0.001). Compared to the provider-collected cervical hrHPV DNA sample (gold standard), the self-collected vaginal hrHPV DNA test demonstrated a sensitivity of 71.4% (95% CI: 0.52, 0.91; p = 0.0495) and specificity of 98.2% (95% CI: 0.96, 1.00; p<0.0001). Over 90% of participants endorsed a preference for the self-collected vaginal swab over provider-collected cervical swab. CONCLUSION
Self-collected vaginal swabs are highly acceptable to TM as a means to test for hrHPV DNA. Test performance of this self-collection method for hrHPV detection in TM is consistent with previous studies in cisgender females. Self-collected vaginal swab testing for hrHPV DNA represents a reasonable and patient-centered strategy for primary cervical cancer screening in TM patients unwilling to undergo provider collection of specimens via speculum exam.