Posts Tagged 'cervical cancer'

HIV and HPV – Structuring Cancer Risk in Poor Women

The dual burden of HIV and HPV is the reality for a growing number of women – especially those living in places of poverty. The Pump Handle has an excellent post deconstructing this dilemma:

According to a recent study in Clinical Infectious Diseases, “low and middle-resource countries, where women have been hit hardest by the AIDS epidemic, have historically also had a high prevalence of human papillomavirus (the virus that causes cervical cancer).” In HIV positive women, HPV develops faster and progresses more quickly to cancer. The problem is that these women are not usually screened for cervical cancer when they are in HIV/AIDS treatment programs. While we are literally saving the lives of women with HIV with antiretroviral therapy and other care services, they are at risk of dying from an easily preventable cancer.

Screening and treating women can prevent cervical cancer, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. For more than ten years, my organization has been working with low-resource countries around the world to provide them with low-cost, effective solutions to help women get screened. One approach, known as VIA, uses vinegar and visual inspection to detect precancerous lesions on the cervix, and it can be followed by cryotherapy treatment to freeze any identified lesions in the same visit. Evidence shows that this simple, low-cost approach can have an important impact in reducing mortality rates from cervical cancer.

The fact that a vaccine is available that drastically reduces the risk of cervical cancer by preventing HPV infection makes the prevalence of cervical cancer due to HPV even more obscene. I applaud Dr. Mancuso for her work addressing this important issue.


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