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Cervical cancer awareness and testing campaign for HIV-positive women

ByWebmaster

Mar 8, 2023

BUJUMBURA March 8th (ABP) – The Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS through the National Program for Reproductive Health (PNSR) and the National Program for the Fight against AIDS (PNLS/IST/HV ) in collaboration with the National Association for the Support of HIV-Positive and AIDS Patients (ANSS) officially launched the cervical cancer awareness and testing campaign for women living with HIV/AIDS, which is to take place from March 7 to 10, 2023 in the provinces of Bujumbura, Gitega, Kirundo, Rumonge, Makamba and Rutana, with funding from the 5% Initiative and Sidaction.

The director of the PNLS, Dr Ananie Ndacayisaba, who represented the Minister of Health in those activities, indicated that early detection of cervical cancer makes it possible to identify as early as possible any precancerous lesions in the cervix, to monitor or treat and prevent the onset of cancer.

He also indicated that the objective of the campaign is to demonstrate the importance of early detection for the prevention of cervical cancer by treating precancerous lesions. He did not fail to point out that cervical cancer is a public health problem both globally and in Burundi.

He specified that in Burundi, there are no national prevalence studies on cervical cancer. Nevertheless, there are indicative data on the situation, collected from health facilities.

According to the director of the PNLS, in 2021, cervical cancer was considered the first cancer in women and for morbidity and mortality.

He also added that 1581 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1126 cases died. This health professional said that HIV-positive women are six times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women who do not have HIV.

In 2021, 45.7% of HIV-positive women had cervical cancer compared to 13.4% among HIV-negative women.

Regarding the causes, he said that cervical cancers are caused by viruses of the family of human papillomaviruses (HPV), which are transmitted sexually. Despite this situation, he reassured saying that cervical cancer is potentially preventable through primary prevention, through vaccination of girls aged 9-14 against HPV, testing and early treatment of precancerous lesions.

Gynecologist-Oncologist Sylvestre Bazikamwe said that the main signs of cancer are smelly vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding outside of monthlies, bleeding after sexual intercourse, skin signs on the genitals and others. He especially invited women living with HIV/AIDS to do regular testing for cervical cancer because they have low immunity. Women aged 30 and over are also called upon to be tested for cervical cancer for prevention.

The executive director of the ANSS, Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Kabanga, said that it was found that HIV-positive women are much more attacked by cervical cancer. She explained that the latter come to the doctor at an advanced stage with little chance of healing.

At the ANSS, they already have 27 women living with HIV/AIDS who have cervical cancer at an advanced stage and who are undergoing treatment thanks to benefactors arguing that the treatment is very expensive.

The organization of that testing campaign will allow HIV-positive women to consult the doctor in time to avoid developing cancer. According to her, the said campaign is taking place in other health care sites such as SWAA Burundi, New Hope, Yezu Mwiza Center.