Last Updated: 2007-06-12 14:15:18 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In young adult women, there is a high degree of agreement between self-collected and clinician-collected vaginal swab samples for detecting human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in the genital tract, results of a new study suggest.

"As a screening tool, self-collected vaginal samples may be a viable alternative in situations where clinician-performed sampling is not feasible," Dr. Rachel L. Winer of the University of Washington, Seattle and the study’s lead author told Reuters Health.

In the study appearing in the June issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 374 women aged 23 to 32 (population 1) and 211 low-risk women aged 18 to 25 (population 2) provided multiple in-clinic self-collected vaginal and clinician-collected cervical and vulvovaginal samples for HPV DNA testing. In addition, 86 women mailed in self-collected samples.

Agreement in HPV detection between sampling modalities was moderate to excellent (86.5% to 95.7%) in population 1, and excellent (94.9% to 98.8%) in population 2, the team reports.

"While clinician-performed sampling of the entire genital tract (cervix, vulva, and vagina) is the most sensitive method for detecting all HPV infections, vaginal sampling offers a good approximation of HPV infections in the genital tract," Dr. Winer noted.

The prevalence of HPV DNA present in the mailed-in samples was slightly lower than in the in-clinic self-collected specimens, which "raises some concern" about the feasibility of mailed-in samples, the researchers report.

Copyright Reuters 2007

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