HIV increases global cervical cancer burden: WHO

Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2020

The World Health Organization launched the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer and also released the first estimates of the contribution of HIV to the global cervical cancer burden.

The WHO report stated that women living with HIV have a six-fold increased risk of cervical cancer when compared to women without HIV.

This higher risk is manifested throughout the lifecycle starting with an increased risk of acquiring human papillomavirus infection (HPV), more rapid progression to cancer, lower chances of regression of pre-cancer lesions, higher rates of recurrence following treatment, WHO mentioned.

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It estimated that 5 per cent of all cervical cancer cases are attributable to HIV. However, these statistics vary enormously by world regions.

In areas with high HIV prevalence, the fraction of cervical cancer attributable to HIV is high and is ≥40 per cent in eight countries, compared to <5 per cent in 127 countries with lower HIV prevalence.

It further noted that 85 per cent of women with cervical cancer and HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, underscoring the major contribution of HIV to the cervical cancer burden in the region.

WHO said: “We must now redouble our efforts and work towards achieving the new WHO cervical cancer elimination targets of 90 per cent HPV vaccination coverage, 70 per cent screening coverage, and 90 per cent access to treatment for cervical pre-cancer and cancer, including access to palliative care by 2030. Achieving these targets could reduce more than 40 per cent of new cervical cancer cases and five million related deaths by 2050.”

WHO Assistant Director-General Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela said in an official statement: “As the world comes together to pledge to eliminate cervical cancer, we must keep our eye on ending this preventable burden on women and girls who are living with HIV. It is our unfinished business.”

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Published on November 17, 2020

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