HTQL students share research at Purdue’s Spring Undergraduate Research Conference

Three students presented posters with their research on approaching health equity at Purdue’s Undergraduate Research Conference Tuesday afternoon.

Easy-to-use HPV Tests

Francesca Hamacher presented her research on a new rapid test for detecting HPV, an extremely common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. Her project aims to develop an affordable and easy-to-use test that can quickly determine if someone is HPV positive.

This new testing method has the potential to make HPV testing more accessible to everyone, particularly those in underserved communities who do not have access to traditional cervical cancer screening methods.

Hamacher and her team have been optimizing a recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) assay to make the test sensitive and easy to use by displaying results on a test strip. 

The new rapid test can help  make HPV testing more accessible to all and address cervical cancer disparities. Francesca’s presentation showcased the importance of engineering research in significantly impacting public health.

Perspectives of community members and health workers on cervical cancer screening 

Sathveka Sembian and Alyssa Arreola poster titled “Community perspectives on community health-worker-facilitated HPV self-sampling for cervical cancer screening in Lake County, Indiana.”

Lake County, located around an hour and a half away from Purdue’s campus, has one of the state’s highest cervical cancer rates, disproportionately affecting the county’s Hispanic population. 

Between 2005 and 2019, the proportion of women without up-to-date screening increased from 14% to 23%. According to Sembian, this is largely due to language barriers and lack of access to healthcare. 

Sembian and Arreola set out to design a self-sampling test to detect cervical cancer, but before doing so surveyed community health workers (CHW) and community members in Lake County about the perceived facilitators and barriers to self-sampling. 

While the health workers and community members expressed different needs, both emphasized the importance of trust in healthcare providers and expressed concerns about the potential lack of privacy of someone entering their homes for medical testing. 

On the other hand, both expressed interest in the ease of access for self-screening tests and being educated on cervical cancer.  

To learn more about their research, find the groups’ posters below.

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