To explore alternative cervical cancer screening approaches in an underserved population, we compared the performance of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA assays in combination with different sample collection methods for primary cervical screening in the Mississippi Delta region. Three specimens were collected from women aged 26 to 65 years who were either routinely undergoing screening (n = 252) or not (n = 191): clinician-collected cervical specimens, clinician-collected cervicovaginal specimens, and self-collected cervicovaginal specimens taken at home. A novel collection device and medium were used for cervicovaginal sampling. Specimens were tested by three HPV DNA assays: hybrid capture 2 (HC2; Qiagen Corp., Gaithersburg, MD), Linear Array (LA; Roche Molecular Systems, Pleasanton, CA), and Amplicor (Roche Molecular Systems, Pleasanton, CA). Liquid-based cytology was performed on cervical specimens. We compared the overall positivity (a proxy for clinical specificity) for any carcinogenic HPV genotype and calculated the agreement across assay and specimen type using McNemar's test for differences in test positivity. Across all three assays there were no significant differences between clinician-collected and self-collected cervicovaginal specimens (P > 0.01 for all comparisons). For both cervicovaginal specimens (clinician collected and self-collected), fewer women tested positive by HC2 than by LA or Amplicor (P < 0.01 for all comparisons). HC2 had the best agreement between specimens for all assays. HC2 is likely more clinically specific, although possibly less sensitive, than either PCR test. Thus, use of HC2 on cervicovaginal specimens for screening could result in fewer referrals compared to LA and Amplicor.
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