• Cervical cancer screening;
  • human papillomavirus;
  • HPV DNA test


To present the results of the first 2 years of a human papillomavirus (HPV) test-based screening programme outside the research context.


Population-based cohort study.


A cervical service screening programme in Italy.


Women aged 25–64 years invited to screening from April 2009 to April 2011.


Eligible women were invited to undergo an HPV test: those with a negative HPV test went on to the next screening episode; those with a positive HPV went on to triage with a Pap smear. Women with positive cytology (i.e. positive for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance or worse, ASC-US+) were referred to colposcopy, whereas those with negative cytology were referred to repeat HPV testing 1 year later.

Main outcome measures

Participation rate, positivity at HPV and at triage, referral rate to colposcopy, positive predictive value for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2+ (CIN2+) at colposcopy, and detection rate for CIN2+.


Participation increased compared with the previous Pap programme (60.6 versus 43.9%). The HPV positivity rate was 7.0; 39.6% of Pap smears were scored as positive, and therefore 2.8% of the women screened were referred for immediate colposcopy. The compliance of women who scored positive for HPV and negative for Pap for repeat HPV testing at 12 months was 78.6%, and the HPV positivity rate was 56.6%. The overall referral rate to colposcopy was 4.6%. The overall detection rate for CIN2+ was 4.5 versus 1.5% of the Pap programme (25–34 years, 8.2%; 35+ years, 3.6%).


Compared with the traditional Pap test, the HPV programme recorded a higher response to invitation and an increased DR for CIN2+. The most critical aspects were the reading of cytology in women that were positive for HPV and the increased workload at colposcopy.