New Delhi: AIIMS-Delhi and the Indian Council of Medical Research have started a multi-centre trial to evaluate three indigenous human papillomavirus tests for detecting cervical cancer so that they meet international quality standards, a senior doctor said on Thursday. The trial began on January 22 and aims to develop an accurate and affordable test which can be integrated into the National Cancer Screening Programme, Dr Neerja Bhatla, Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at AIIMS said.
"The present indigenous tests available have not yet been validated for conformity with international standards," she said. The Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) test for cancer detection which has a risk of false positive is being used under the national programme currently and it is not accurate, Bhatla said. To validate these tests, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has collaborated with WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The agency would be providing around 12,00 samples for testing, she said.
The three HPV tests will be conducted at three separate laboratories of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the National Institute of Cancer Prevention Research in Noida and the National Institute for Research in Reproductive and Child Health in Mumbai, she said. Meanwhile, doctors have said that women over the age of 30 should get screened periodically for cervical cancer through HPV, Pap or VIA tests. They also recommended that young girls should get the HPV vaccine preferably before the age of 15 years.