At the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS released a joint report, titled HPV, HIV and cervical cancer: leveraging synergies to save women’s lives, as part of the work of the United Nations Interagency Joint Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases. The report presents scientific evidence on the link between HIV, Human papillomavirus (HPV), and cervical cancer as well as examples of organizations and programs working to link HIV, HPV, and cervical cancer services to women most in need.
HIV-positive women, because of their compromised immune systems, have higher rates of HPV infection, including with high-risk HPV types, a higher chance of having contracted multiple HPV strains, and a higher probability of persistent HPV infection. These factors all lead to increased chances of developing cervical pre-cancer and, ultimately, invasive cancer, if the HPV infection is not detected early. Women who are HIV-positive have four to five times greater risk of developing cervical cancer than their HIV-negative peers. Evidence also suggests that HPV may be a cofactor in HIV acquisition.
The report explored synergies between HIV and cervical cancer prevention programs and made the case to integrate cervical cancer prevention into existing HIV prevention and treatment programs. The report cited Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon as a key player in this work, as a global partnership that engages national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and key local leadership to create country-owned, sustainable cervical cancer screening and prevention programs.
The report also highlights the success of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia, which Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon supports. The program is used as a case study that demonstrates the cost-effectiveness and impact of integrating cervical cancer and HIV services.
UNAIDS is a founding member of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon and supports programs in all of the countries in which we work. UNAIDS was established in 1996 as an innovative joint venture of the United Nations family to help the world prevent new HIV infections, care for those already infected, and mitigate the impact of the epidemic.
By Meera Sarathy, MPH, MBA, Country Program Manager for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon