‘In the current 28 Member States of the European Union (EU), approximately 34,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 13,000 deaths occur' [Ferlay et al.: Eur J Cancer 2014;49:1374-1403]. ‘The current 10-fold gradient in the mortality rates of cervical cancer among the EU Member States largely reflects the persistent absence, or inadequate implementation of cervical cancer screening programmes more than 10 years after organized, population-based screening programmes following European quality assurance guidelines were unanimously recommended by the Health Ministers of the EU' [Council of the European Union: Off J Eur Union 2003;327:34-38]. This article will compare the strengths, weaknesses and risks of the following 4 cervical health screening strategies: HPV as a triage of cytology, cytology as a triage of HPV, cotesting (parallel) or cytology at the time of HPV (HPV-informed guided screening). ‘The optimal screening strategy should identify those cervical cancer precursors likely to progress to invasive cancers (maximizing the benefits of screening) and avoid the detection and unnecessary treatment of transient HPV infection and its associated benign lesions that are not destined to become cancerous (minimizing the potential harms of screening)' [Saslow et al.: Am J Clin Pathol 2012;137:516-542].