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Keywords:

  • cervical cancer;
  • visual inspection;
  • cytology;
  • screening;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • India

Abstract

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women in India and other developing country settings are living longer on antiretroviral therapy, yet their risk for human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced cervical cancer remains unabated because of lack of cost-effective and accurate secondary prevention methods. Visual inspection after application of dilute acetic acid on the cervix (VIA) has not been adequately studied against the current standard: conventional cervical cytology (Pap smears) among HIV-infected women. We evaluated 303 nonpregnant HIV-infected women in Pune, India, by simultaneous and independent screening with VIA and cervical cytology with disease ascertainment by colposcopy and histopathology. At the cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN2+) disease threshold, the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive value estimates of VIA were 80, 82.6, 47.6 and 95.4% respectively, compared to 60.5, 59.6, 22.4 and 88.7% for the atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance or severe (ASCUS+) cutoff on cytology, 60.5, 64.6, 24.8 and 89.4% for the low-grade squamous intraepithelial cells or severe (LSIL+) cutoff on cytology and 20.9, 96.0, 50.0 and 86.3% for high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion or severe (HSIL+) cutoff on cytology. A similar pattern of results was found for women with the presence of carcinogenic HPV-positive CIN2+ disease, as well as for women with CD4+ cell counts <200 and <350 μL−1. Overall, VIA performed better than cytology in this study with biologically rigorous endpoints and without verification bias, suggesting that VIA is a practical and useful alternative or adjunctive screening test for HIV-infected women. Implementing VIA-based screening within HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome care programs may provide an easy and practical means of complementing the highly anticipated low-cost HPV-based rapid screening tests in the near future, thereby contributing to improve program effectiveness of screening.