Cervical cancer screening in low resource settings using visual inspection with acetic acid

J Midwifery Womens Health. Jul-Aug 2004;49(4):329-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2004.02.015.


Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death for middle-aged women in the developing world, yet it is almost completely preventable, if precancerous lesions are identified and treated in a timely manner. Cervical cancer screening based on cytologic examination is largely unavailable in developing countries or made available to a small, select group of women in private facilities, maternal child health sites, or family-planning clinics, missing the age groups at highest risk for precancerous lesions. Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) can be used to screen women. It can be done by nurses or midwives with appropriate training. Although still under investigation, research results show that VIA is simple, accurate, cost-effective, and acceptable to most women. This article reviews the natural history of cervical cancer and important aspects to consider related to cervical cancer screening in low resource settings. The VIA technique is described in detail.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid*
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / diagnosis*
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / pathology
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / prevention & control
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Obstetrical and Gynecological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / prevention & control
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Women's Health


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Acetic Acid