Cervical cancer risk factors and screening preferences among Muslim women in Monrovia, Liberia

Omara Afzal, Whitney Lieb, Molly Lieber, Sayeeda Chowdhury, Ann Marie Beddoe

Abstract

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in reproductive aged women in Liberia. Lack of awareness and screening capacity are both major contributors to the prevalence of this disease. The minority Muslim population in this country is largely unscreened. The objective of the study was to assess cervical cancer risk factors and screening preferences among Muslim women living in Monrovia, Liberia and to offer self-screening with HPV testing. A multiple step implementation strategy was devised in order to outreach to the Muslim population with the engagement of community and religious leaders, about an upcoming screening program and informational session at a local clinic. Over 150 Muslim women attended the session, 120 completed the HPV screening, and 55 women completed the questionnaires. Questionnaire data revealed overall low risk factors for cervical cancer, but also low use of family planning as well as low knowledge about cervical cancer and HPV. Participants showed an interest in screening and a majority preferred self-collected tests. These preferences should be incorporated in future programming. To engage minority populations in screening programs, there may be success with targeted messages, involvement of community religious leaders, and eliciting feedback to incorporate preferred strategies and improve participation and programming. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020; 24[3]: 101-107).

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