Background: Historically, all black persons, regardless of ancestry or country of origin, have been cate-gorized as one group for cancer research and control efforts. This practice likely masks variability in exposure to determinants of disease, as well as in risk of cancer incidence and mortality. The current study examines potential differences in knowledge of human papilloma virus (HPV) between Haitian women living in Little Haiti, Miami, Florida, and a national sample of predominately African American women. Methods: Data for Haitian women were collected in 2007 as part of an ongoing community-based participatory research initiative in Little Haiti. For purposes of comparison, we used data from a largely African American subsample of the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). These data sources used identical items to assess HPV knowledge, providing a unique opportunity to examine how this outcome may vary between two very distinct populations who are often grouped together for research and disease surveillance. Results: Relative to the HINTS sample, Haitian women were far less likely to have heard about HPV. Conclusions: Study data highlight important differences in Haitian and African American women's knowledge of HPV, a known determinant of cervical cancer risk. Such findings suggest that continuing to classify persons of similar phenotype but different cultural backgrounds and lifetime exposures as one group may preclude opportunity to understand, as well as attenuate, health disparity.
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