Background: World Health Organization guidelines support human papillomavirus (HPV) testing alone (followed by treatment with cryotherapy) or in conjunction with visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) triage testing. Our objective was to determine the cost-effectiveness of VIA triage for HPV-positive women in low-resource settings. Methods: We calibrated mathematical simulation models of HPV infection and cervical cancer to epidemiologic data from India, Nicaragua, and Uganda. Using cost and test performance data from the START-UP demonstration projects, we assumed screening took place either once or three times in a lifetime between ages 30 and 40 years. Strategies included (i) HPV alone, followed by cryotherapy for all eligible HPV-positive women; and (ii) HPV testing with VIA triage for HPV-positive women, followed by cryotherapy for eligible women who were also VIA-positive (HPV-VIA). Model outcomes included lifetime risk of cervical cancer and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs; international dollars/year of life saved). Results: In all three countries, HPV alone was more effective than HPV-VIA. In Nicaragua and Uganda, HPV alone was also less costly than HPV-VIA; ICERs associated with screening three times in a lifetime (HPV alone) were below per capita GDP. In India, both HPV alone and HPV-VIA had ICERs below per capita GDP. Conclusions: VIA triage of HPV-positive women is not likely to be cost-effective in settings with high cervical cancer burden. HPV alone followed by treatment may achieve greater health benefits and value for public health dollars. Impact: This study provides early evidence on the cost-effectiveness of HPV testing followed by VIA triage versus an HPV screen-and-treat strategy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas