Latinas have higher incidence and mortality rates due to cervical cancer than non-Latina white women (American Cancer Society, 2009; Downs et al., 2008; Jemal et al., 2009). The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly reduce cervical cancer disparities; however, Latinas are less likely to know about HPV and the vaccine (Jain et al., 2009), and are less likely to complete the 3 dose series than non-Latinas (Neubrand et al., 2009). These disparities instigate the need for culturally competent HPV vaccination educational programs in the Latino/a community.

An HPV advisory committee (HPVAC) consisting of multicultural researchers and experienced community health advisors (CHA) who conduct cancer education sessions for the Por la Vida program (PLV; “For Life;” Navarro et al., 1995; Navarro et al., 2007) was formed to assess the needs of the San Diego Latino/a community with regard to HPV and the vaccine. PLV was developed in San Diego in 1988 using a community-based participatory model that has evolved and expanded over time. PLV serves low-income, low acculturated Latino communities with limited access to health care services in the San Diego border region and beyond. PLV “consejeras” (CHA) conduct cancer education classes in small groups, which have been found to increase cancer screenings, healthy behaviors, and knowledge about cancer risk factors (Navarro et al., 1995; Navarro et al., 2007); however, there has not been an educational session about HPV and the vaccine.

Focus groups were conducted with18 experienced CHA, to identify the needs of the community with regard to education about the HPV vaccine, and what would be needed to make an HPV vaccine education program successful. The focus groups revealed: 1) There are many myths and limited information about HPV and cervical cancer in the community, 2) Participants’ HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge is also limited, 3) There are barriers to learning about HPV/cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine in the Latino/a community, and 4) Participants had many recommendations for the development of a culturally competent HPV/cervical cancer program.

The HPVAC used the information from the focus groups to guide their development of a 2-hour HPV vaccine education intervention with Latinas in San Diego County. Following the principles of community-based participatory methodology, which has been at the core of the PLV programs for several years, the HPVAC created an educational curriculum that will address HPV and the HPV vaccine in a way that builds on the strengths of the community. Focus group participants clearly expressed the need to have the sessions be conducted face-to-face, in small settings, led by CHA. Moreover, interactive skill building programs that stimulate discussion among the women participating in the groups was thought to be an approach that would be most accepted and successful in the Latino community.

According to community-based participatory principles (Israel et al., 2005) and evidence from previous PLV programs (Navarro et al., 1995; Navarro et al., 2007), providing women with knowledge and skills to communicate accurate information may influence more than just the individual engaged in the program. The aims of this program are to inform women about HPV and the HPV vaccine, where to obtain the vaccine, and how to talk to their family members/friends about the vaccine. The program was developed in a way that respects and honors the cultural beliefs of this community. The proposed presentation will discuss the findings of the focus groups with the CHA, some of the challenges in program development, and the elements of the program to be implemented in fall 2011.

Citation Information: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20(10 Suppl):A16.