§ Mr. Lansley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the original planned publication date was for the results of the implementation pilots on human papilloma virus testing. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
[holding answer 2 March 2004]: A pilot of human papilloma virus (HPV) testing as triage for women whose cervical screening test results showed low grade abnormalities began in April 2001 as part of the pilot of liquid based cytology (LBC). In the pilot, women who were HPV positive were referred immediately for a follow-up examination by colposcopy. If the test showed women were HPV negative, they had a repeat screening test after six months and a second HPV test.
An independent evaluation of the pilot was commissioned by the Department from the Cancer Screening Evaluation Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research. The evaluation is covering all aspects of HPV testing as triage, including cost-effectiveness. As women who have low grade abnormalities hut are HPV negative are retested six months later, the HPV arm of the pilot has taken longer than the LBC arm, as expected. Full follow-up of all women in the pilot is essential for completeness of the evaluation. The HPV evaluation report was due at the end of 2003, but the evaluation has proved more difficult than anticipated. It is important to get the evaluation right, as the cervical screening programmes involved four million women each year.
A draft of the evaluation report has been seen by the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening, and will also go to the National Screening Committee, which originally commissioned the pilot, shortly. The evaluation report will then be peer reviewed in the usual way, and we expect publication of the full report in the summer. The evaluators will also publish aspects of the results in peer reviewed journals.