Applying a gender lens on human papillomavirus infection: cervical cancer screening, HPV DNA testing, and HPV vaccination

Ivan Brankovic*, Petra Verdonk, Ineke Klinge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Our aim is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of knowledge on sex (biological) and gender (sociocultural) aspects of Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer for educational purposes. Considerable disparities exist in cervical cancer incidences between different subgroups of women. We provide an outline on the crucial issues and debates based on the recent literature published in leading gender medicine journals. Intersectionality was applied in order to help categorise the knowledge. Methods: Key terms (HPV, cervical cancer) were screened in Gender Medicine, Journal of Women's Health and Women & Health from January 2005-June 2012. Additional searches were conducted for topics insufficiently mentioned, such as HPV vaccination of boys. In total, 71 publications were included (56 original papers, four reviews, six reports, three commentaries, one editorial and one policy statement). Results: Research reveals complexity in the way various subgroups of women adhere to cervical screening. Less educated women, older women, uninsured women, homeless women, migrant women facing language barriers, women who have sex with women and obese women participate in Pap smears less frequently. A series of barriers can act to impede decisions to vaccinate against HPV. Conclusions: Both male and female controlled preventive methods and treatment measures should be developed in order to tackle HPV infection and different strategies are needed for different subgroups. A substantial discussion and research on alternative methods of prevention was and is lacking. In future research, sex and gender aspects of HPV-related diseases of boys and men as well as subgroup differences in HPV risk need to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2013


  • Gender
  • Human papillomavirus
  • HPV
  • HPV vaccine
  • Cervical cancer
  • Pap smear
  • HPV DNA testing
  • Intersectionality

Cite this