Screening test accuracy to improve detection of precancerous lesions of the cervix in women living with HIV: A study protocol

Academic Article


  • Introduction The simplest and cheapest method for cervical cancer screening is visual inspection after application of acetic acid (VIA). However, this method has limitations for correctly identifying precancerous cervical lesions (sensitivity) and women free from these lesions (specificity). We will assess alternative screening methods that could improve sensitivity and specificity in women living with humanimmunodeficiency virus (WLHIV) in Southern Africa. Methods and analysis We will conduct a paired, prospective, screening test accuracy study among consecutive, eligible women aged 18-65 years receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS at Kanyama Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia. We will assess a portable magnification device (Gynocular, Gynius Plus AB, Sweden) based on the Swede score assessment of the cervix, test for high-risk subtypes of human papillomavirus (HR-HPV, GeneXpert, Cepheid, USA) and VIA. All study participants will receive all three tests and the reference standard at baseline and at six-month follow-up. The reference standard is histological assessment of two to four biopsies of the transformation zone. The primary histological endpoint is cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade two and above (CIN2+). Women who are VIA-positive or have histologically confirmed CIN2+ lesions will be treated as per national guidelines. We plan to enrol 450 women. Primary outcome measures for test accuracy include sensitivity and specificity of each stand-alone test. In the secondary analyses, we will evaluate the combination of tests. Pre-planned additional studies include use of cervigrams to test an automated visual assessment tool using image pattern recognition, cost-analysis and associations with trichomoniasis. Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Zambia Biomedical Research Ethics Committee, Zambian National Health Regulatory Authority, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, Swissethics and the International Agency for Research on Cancer Ethics Committee. Results of the study will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Trial registration number NCT03931083; Pre-results.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • BMJ Open  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Taghavi K; Moono M; Mwanahamuntu M; Basu P; Limacher A; Tembo T; Kapesa H; Hamusonde K; Asangbeh S; Sznitman R
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 12