Panafrican News Agency

New cervical cancer programme to focus on screening adult women living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA)  -  A new cervical cancer programme initiated Tuesday on the sidelines of the week-long International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) will screen over 70,000 women aged 30-49, mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa, who are living with HIV/AIDS, an official source revealed here Tuesday.

"The screening will be conducted using HPV-DNA testing, as well as visual inspection with acetic acid; while treating cervical precancerous lesions with thermo ablation devices," Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame said.

The HPV DNA test, which is used to check for high-risk infection in women, is mainly conducted to determine the exact type of human papillomavirus (HPV), experts said.

However, the test is not recommended for screening for cervical cancer in women under 30 because this range of age is much more likely (than older women) to have an HPV infection that will go away on its own.

Official reports by UNAIDS show that cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer diagnosed among women in Rwanda.

The country's cervical cancer control strategy includes primary prevention via school-based HPV vaccine program for girls, which in 2011 yielded three dose vaccination rate at 93.2 pecent.

Suspected cases of cancer are referred from primary care facilities to the referral and teaching hospitals such as the Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), it said.

In the meantime, medical experts complain the lack of fancy equipment as the main challenge to tackle HPV in Rwanda.

"But there is a lot we can do within our means," said Dr. Pacifique Mugenzi, head of the cancer centre at the Rwandan military hospital in Kigali

Over the last nine months, the hospital has treated 300 cancer patients, 25 percent being cervical cancer cases, said the reports.


-0-     PANA     TWA/RA   3Dec2019