Purpose: The HIV Medicine Association recommends anal Pap tests for women living with HIV (WLWH) with a history of abnormal cervical Pap tests, ano-receptive intercourse, or genital warts. This study describes current anal cancer screening practices and provider- and staff-identified challenges conducting anal cancer screening for WLWH in an integrated safety-net healthcare institution and community healthcare organization serving underinsured patients in a metropolitan city in Texas. Findings inform our understanding of factors that need to be addressed prior to implementation of system-level anal cancer screening policies and protocols for WLWH, a population at increased risk for anal cancer due to persistent HPV infection. Methods: We purposefully sampled providers, clinical staff, and administrative staff to participate in in-person semi-structured interviews assessing participant experiences with anal cancer screening, documentation, and follow up, and attitudes toward future anal cancer screening among WLWH. Audio-recorded interviews and field notes were transcribed and thematically analyzed using an iterative deductive and inductive coding scheme. Results: We completed interviews with 25 individuals: providers (n=11: 7 safety-net, 4 community), clinical staff (n=10: 8 safety-net, 2 community), and administrative staff (n=4: safety-net). Current practices. No system-level policies or protocols for anal cancer screening existed within the safety-net institution or community organization for WLWH. Instead, HIV providers performed anal Pap tests ad hoc, most frequently as diagnostic evaluations based on visual inspections or patient-reported symptoms. To follow up on abnormal test results, providers referred patients to Proctology Clinic, where wait for an appointment was about one year. Challenges. Without anal cancer screening policies or protocols, clinical teams were unclear on whether the HIV team or gynecology specialty team should lead screening efforts. Electronic health records only recorded cervical Pap test results in the “Pap” field, leaving providers to record anal Pap results in a notes section. This limited the ability to produce systematic reports or track screening. Finally, providers and staff expressed reluctance to conduct systematic anal cancer screening until greater infrastructure existed to manage referrals for abnormal anal Pap test results. Conclusions: Anal cancer screening and follow-up for WLWH require organization and coordination between multiple care teams, and protocols should clarify clinical pathways and responsibilities as patients transition between HIV, gynecology, and proctology teams. Further, clinical information systems must be updated to facilitate teams’ communication and to support anal Pap test ordering and documentation. Finally, downstream infrastructure to support follow-up must accompany upstream implementation of an anal cancer screening policy.
Citation Format: Serena A Rodriguez, Robin T Higashi, Andrea B Betts, Cynthia Ortiz, Jasmin A Tiro, Amneris Luque, Arti Barnes. Challenges implementing anal cancer screening for women living with HIV: Clinical providers and staff perspectives [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Twelfth AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2019 Sep 20-23; San Francisco, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020;29(6 Suppl_2):Abstract nr C126.