New York Times (09.24.12)
Qiagen, a Dutch company, introduced a new test for cervical cancer, called careHPV this month in El Salvador. It is a swab test for the DNA of the papillomaviruses that cause cancer. In the United States, doctors and health care workers diagnose cervical cancer by pap smears that must be read under a microscope by a trained cytologist. This test method is expensive and difficult to use in developing countries. Some countries use the vinegar test, which consists of shining a light on the cervix and painting it with vinegar. The precancerous lesions are then revealed and are burned off with liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide.
The careHPV test has worked even for women who inserted the swabs themselves. Women can perform this method at home, making it easier and faster than going to a clinic for visual inspections. Dr. Miriam Cremer, Founder of the Basic Health International, which supervises the new project, states that she hopes to screen 30,000 Salvadoran women for cervical cancer in two years and produce a model for expanding screening to millions. The Qiagen test was originally developed in China.