WHO announces new guideline for HPV testing

Amarachi Okeh

The World Health Organisation has recommended HPV DNA testing as a preferred screening for cervical cancer

The WHO announced the new guideline in a press statement it released on Tuesday.

The world’s health agency stated that the preferred method of cervical cancer screening should now be HPV DNA testing and not pap smear that is commonly used.

The statement reads, “In particular, the new WHO guideline recommends an HPV DNA based test as the preferred method, rather than a visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) or cytology (commonly known as a ‘Pap smear’), currently the most commonly used methods globally to detect pre-cancer lesions.

“HPV-DNA testing detects high-risk strains of HPV which cause almost all cervical cancers.

“Unlike tests that rely on visual inspection, HPV-DNA testing is an objective diagnostic, leaving no space for interpretation of results.

“Although the process for a healthcare provider obtaining a cervical sample is similar with both cytology or HPV DNA testing, HPV DNA testing is simpler, prevents more pre-cancers and cancer, and saves more lives than VIA or cytology.

“In addition, it is more cost-effective,” the statement said

According to, healthxchange – an online medical platform, HPV DNA testing is able to detect the presence of all 14 HPV strains and to single out HPV 16 and HPV 18 which are the two commonest and most aggressive types.

“Also, it is able to pick out the presence of squamous cell carcinoma – common cancer which has a premalignant phase.

“The test is also able to detect adenocarcinoma of the cervix, an aggressive cancer that is on the rise and which often strikes younger women,” the site explained.

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