HPV Test Designed For Rural Areas

2008-09-22 09:06

A new HPV test showed to be accurate, fast and cheap and will be soon widely acceptable in rural areas. This will help women in developing countries to earlier diagnose viruses causing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the number two cancer in women, with 500000 newly diagnosed cases and 300000 deaths each year. In most cases (more than 85%) it occurs in developing world. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a type of infection occurring on cervix and later causing genital warts, cervical and other cancers. The sooner HPV is diagnosed, the lower cervical cancer risk is.

In developing countries women have more options for testing HPV and they are also better educated about the need of performing the tests. The situation is different in rural countries, were women have to travel to a hospital and get a test. They need to be hospitalized for a short while or need to get back to the villages where they live and come to a hospital again. Rural hospitals often lack appropriate laboratories and properly trained employees to perform high quality tests. Besides, current HPV test options are very expensive for those living in developing countries.

The most popular HPV test in rural areas is being conducted by painting woman's cervix with vinegar to see if there are any abnormal occurrences. When the tested woman shows to be suspicious, she is being examined by a doctor. This testing method is extremely inaccurate and women don't really benefit from it.

This is why in 2003 two companies received a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to develop a molecular test for rural use. These companies are Path - global health nonprofit, and Gaithersburg's Digene, which was later acquired by Qiagen. The companies now have designed a test called CareHPV and tested it on 2388 Chinese women aged from 30 to 54.

The HPV test showed to be 90% accurate and is easy to perform: it doesn't need it professional staff, electricity or running water to perform. CareHPV is also cheaper and will be much better for those living in rural countries. The test gives results on 14 types of HPV infection in just two hours and it doesn't require hospitalization.

With CareHPV health officials hope to have more HPV tests in women living in rural areas, which can protect them from developing cervical cancer.

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