Background Cervical cancer is a major problem in women and it is important to find a suitable and acceptable screening method, especially among young in low-resource areas for future human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine follow-up investigations. The study sought to test the acceptability of self-sampling as well as the suitability of the specimen collecting devices. Methods Ninety-eight young women from rural KwaZulu-Natal were enrolled between March and July 2014. Collected genital specimens were transferred to colour indicator cards for HPV detection. Participants answered a questionnaire where they described their experiences with self-sampling. Samples were tested for high-risk HPV using GP5/6+ PCR. Results Of the enrolled participants, 91 answered questionnaires and indicated that self-sampling was preferred by 51/91 (56%) women while 40/91 (44%) indicated preference for sampling by a doctor (p = 0.023). The majority, 64% were comfortable using a swab, 22% preferred a brush while 11% were comfortable with both devices. Of the 98 self-sampled specimens 61 were negative for HPV in both specimens while 37 were HPV-positive in either brush or swab. Of the 37, 26 (70%) were HPV-positive in both brush and swab (kappa = 0.743) and 11 (30%) were discordant. Conclusions Self-sampling was acceptable to the majority of participants in this rural area. The Dacron swab was the preferred device, and can be used in combination with colour indicator cards for comfortable self-sampling, easy storage and transport of specimens plus detection.
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