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AIIMS starts multi-centre study of indigenous HPV tests for Cervical Cancer screening

Dr Neerja Bhatla, HOD, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, AIIMS, Delhi (Photo: ANI)

To make the Human papillomavirus (HPV) tests affordable to the people, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has started a study of indigenous HPV tests for cervical cancer screening in India.

The study will be conducted to assess the “indigenous HPV test” by three laboratories that include AIIMS, NICPR Noida and NIRRCH Mumbai.

According to Dr Neerja Bhatla, HOD, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, AIIMS, Delhi, the results will be quick and cost-effective.

“There are several HPV tests that are now being manufactured in India, but we have taken three tests that are a point of care. The results will come within one hour or one and a half hours and we can plan for the next step,” Dr Bhatla said.

“The results of the indigenous HPV tests study are expected to come in a few months then we will be able to say that we have internationally validated indigenous tests and then these make-in-India tests will be fit to export to any country in the world because they meet the international specifications,” said Dr Bhatla

Currently, the cost of an HPV test varies between Rs 1500-2000, but with Indian kits, the cost is expected to be reduced significantly with more accuracy.

“It will definitely be more cost-effective than what is in the pocket now. And secondly, it will be more cost-effective than any of the other tests because it is more accurate,” she added.

“With this vision, we are launching a multi-centre study with the support of DBT-BIRAC Grand Challenges India in collaboration with WHO’s International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC). The testing will be performed at AIIMS, New Delhi, NICPR Noida and NIRRCH Mumbai,” stated AIIMS.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In India, it is the second most common cancer among women after breast cancer. Every two minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer around the world.

According to GLOBOCAN, an online database that provides global cancer statistics, in 2022, an estimated 663,301 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 348,874 women died from the disease. Low-middle-income countries (LMIC) like India contribute to nearly 80 per cent of the disease burden.

In India, there are approximately 127,526 new cases and 79,906 deaths per annum. Considering this, WHO launched ‘Call For Elimination of Cervical Cancer’ with a vision of a cervical cancer-free world, in which India is also one of the signatories. By 2030, we should meet the targets of screening 70 per cent of women and vaccinating 90 per cent of girls.