Objective: This study aimed to assess the safety, acceptability and feasibility of primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for cervical cancer prevention at the community level in a low-resource setting.
Materials and methods: After training a technician to run specimens on the careHPV unit, the study team traveled to a different village each day in rural Roi-et Province, Thailand. Women were tested for HPV using self-swab, followed by careHPV testing. Those with positive result were assessed immediately by visual inspection with acetic acid. Women positive for HPV and visual inspection with acetic acid were offered cryotherapy. Safety was determined by monitoring adverse events. Exit surveys assessed acceptability and feasibility. Feasibility was also assessed by measuring testing and triage throughputs.
Results: Technician training required 2.5 days to achieve competency. A total of 431 women were screened in 14 days, with an average of 31 women screened daily. No adverse events were reported. Women deemed the program overwhelmingly acceptable: 90.5% reported that they would take the self-swab again, 71.3% preferred the self-swab to a clinician swab. The program was also feasible: 99.8% of eligible women agreed to testing, 94.8% returned for same-day follow-up, and women only spent 30 to 50 minutes of their total time with the program from screening to results.
Conclusions: Cervical cancer prevention programs based on self-swab HPV testing could be safe, acceptable, feasible, and effective at the community level in low-resource settings.