The estimated cervical cancer burden is over ten-fold greater in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) than in high-income countries. This health gap is thought to be primarily due to limited access to effective screening and treatment programs for cervical pre-cancer and cancer in such settings. The World Health Organization advocates a policy of 'screen and treat' approach to cervical screening in LMICs and subsequently visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid (VIA) or Lugo's iodine (VILI), followed by ablative cervical cryotherapy if indicated, and this policy has been implemented in many high-burden settings. The performance of VIA/VILI as a primary screening tool for the detection of cervical pre-cancer and cancer has, however, been inconsistent. Recently, many high-income countries have integrated HPV-DNA testing into their cervical cancer screening programs. The comparatively high cost and resource requirements of HPV-based screening have to date prevented many LMICs from doing the same. A significant development has been the entrance of innovative, easy-to-use and highly accurate HPV tests that can be provided at point of care; these could enable LMICs to implement 'test and treat' approaches for cervical cancer screening.
Keywords: HPV; cervical cancer; low- and middle-income countries; screening.