Under the Families and Communities for the Elimination of HIV (FACE HIV) program, OPHID’s work over the past 7 years has focused on strengthening the quality of HIV care and treatment services, with the goal of improving the quality of life for all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Zimbabwe.
With support from USAID and PEPFAR, OPHID is collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Child Care in 24 districts to implement the Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment (C-CAST) project. The C-CAST project aims to increase the availability and accessibility of high-quality cervical cancer ‘screen and treatment’ services for HIV-positive women (above 30 years).
With established local technical expertise in health systems strengthening for HIV care and treatment, OPHID and its partner J.F. Kapnek have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide an integrated approach to cervical cancer prevention for women living with HIV. The initiative focuses on:
- Enhancing the availability of skilled human resources for health to provide cervical cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment services
- Integration of VIAC “see-and-treat” services into routine HIV care and treatment services within priority facilities in the 24 PEPFAR- USAID supported districts.
This collaborative initiative with MOHCC aims to reduce illnesses and deaths associated with cervical cancer among women living with HIV, through early detection and treatment of pre-cancer lesions.
Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know
- Cervical cancer affects the cervix — the narrow lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Women living with HIV are at greater risk (4-5 times more) to develop cervical cancer due to their reduced immunity.
- HPV infection can cause the cells of the cervix to change and grow, leading to development of abnormal cells on the cervix (precancerous cells. If left untreated, these abnormal cells can lead to cervical cancer.
- There are usually no signs or symptoms of early cervical cancer, however it can be prevented through routine screening for the presence of pre-cancerous cells.
- In Zimbabwe, cervical cancer is the most common cancer accounting for 33.2% of cancers. (source?) ( Chokunonga E, Borok M.Z, Chirenje Z.M, Nyakabau A.M Pattern of cancer in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry 2006)
Risk factors for cervical cancer
Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer.
In women who are infected with HPV, the following risk factors add to the increased risk of cervical cancer:
- Lack of regular cervical cancer screening
- Smoking cigarettes - smoking affects the cells in your cervix, thus exposing you to cervical cancer
- HIV infection: HIV weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and other diseases.
- Being sexually active at a young age.
- Having many sexual partners.
Find out more through these Cervical Cancer Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about Cervical Cancer Treatment and where to access services through our Service Locator.