Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if caught early. Yet an estimated 250,000 women are still dying from this disease annually. Most of these women are dying because they live in Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, India and other low-resource countries that lack the laboratories and infrastructure required for a Pap test. What’s readily available to women in Minneapolis and Madrid can’t be had in the rural towns and remote villages across Africa and in parts of Asia. Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. The advent of the HPV vaccine gives health care providers the means to immunize young girls against this cancer-causing virus.
As a leader in women’s health, Jhpiego is investing its resources to advance breakthroughs in cervical cancer prevention that capitalize on the latest science and practice. We are working with the government of Botswana on a research study that focuses on the feasibility and acceptability of women taking their own sample for HPV testing. The results of this HPV test would determine if a woman has one of the high-risk types of the virus and would need further evaluation and treatment to prevent cervical cancer. This self-collection platform would give health officials in low-resource settings the opportunity to reach more women (since the test can be done in the privacy of one’s home), and focus their scant resources and health care providers’ time on women most at risk for the disease.