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Point-of-care tests for human papillomavirus detection in uterine cervical samples: A review of advances in resource-constrained settings.

Incidence of cervical cancer and associated mortality are still high in resource-constrained countries due to the lack of infrastructural facilities and trained workforce. Human papillomavirus (HPV)-based screening tests offer a better sensitivity (>90%) for the detection of cervical high-grade lesions. However, these tests usually require an extensive laboratory set-up and trained technical staff. Moreover, the high cost of the currently available and approved HPV tests precludes their use in the cervical cancer screening programmes in resource-limited settings. Hence, there is a felt need for a low-cost point-of-care (POC) HPV test with good performance characteristics to help augment cervical cancer screening in such settings. A recent meta-analysis demonstrated a good sensitivity and specificity for two of the commercially available POC HPV tests. The present review discusses the merits and limitations of the current commercially available POC and near-POC devices for HPV-based cervical cancer screening. The technologies that have the potential to be developed into low-cost POC tests and newer promising modalities for HPV-based POC or near POC have also been highlighted. This review underscores the need for collaborative and coordinated research for development of POC or near-POC HPV-based tests to be used in cervical cancer screening. Efforts need to be focussed on technologies that offer ease of performance without the requirement of sophisticated equipment or extensive sample pre-processing coupled with a good sensitivity and cost-effectiveness.

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