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HPV Test For Rural Areas Major Breakthrough

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, September 22, 2008 9:59 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: HPV, Human Papillomavirus, Cancer, Cervical Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Women's Health

New test for HPV funded by the Gates foundation, can be used in rural areas without clinics.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ low grade cervical changes with HPV effect/ author: Dr. Ed Uthman


A new, inexpensive test for human papillomavirus may bring much needed health care for women who generally go undiagnosed in rural areas.

The test is called CareHPV and it was 90 percent accurate in finding cervical cancers when it was tested in the Shanxi province of eastern China.

Currently the most common screening tool in rural areas is to paint a woman’s cervix with vinegar to find abnormalities. 

The Care HPV test, made by Qiagen, was found to be “substantially” more accurate in identifying women with cervical disease than the current method of visual inspection.

Tested on 2,500 women ages 30-54 in rural China, the test can be done with a minimal infrastructure such as skilled clinicians and a clinical setting, usually not available in rural areas. Minimally trained health care workers can administer the test.  

Once samples of the vaginal or cervical cells are collected using a kit of reagents that contains a water supply, the test for 14 types of HPV DNA are conducted on the portable equipment that runs on batteries.

Another advantage is that “it can produce results within two and a half hours, allowing treatment to be administered during the same visit -- a critical requirement when women would likely not be able to return for follow-up care if sent home after their exam," according to Attila Lorincz, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor of molecular epidemiology at Barts and the London School of Medicine, as well as London's Queen Mary College.

The study is reported in Lancet Oncology today.

The company partnered with PATH, a Seattle based health nonprofit, which received $13 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

CareHPV will be available for pilot programs in rural areas beginning in early 2009. It will be sold to governments and nongovernmental organizations and the company says, to anyone to who needs it. “We’re not going to turn anyone down,” said Pamela Rasmussen of Qiagen to the Washington Post.

"We are going to make it affordable for companies and entities that want to get this out to women."

Cervical cancer kills more than 300,000 women worldwide every year, the majority in developing countries.

It is the second-most-common cancer found in women and caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) which are sexually transmitted, though not uncommon.

It’s estimated about 80 percent of women will get an HPV infection in their lifetime.  The Merck vaccine, Gardasil, is intended to prevent cancers from two types of HPV and genital warts from two other types of HPV when given to young teens or adolescents before they become sexually active.  

The Pap smear checks for cervical disease and about half of women in the developed world are screened compared to only five percent in the developing world according to the world health Organization. #

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