Cervical cancer, which is largely preventable, takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year. The disease impacts poorer countries at a greater rate due to insufficient access to testing and reliable diagnostic tools.
This month, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Human Reproduction Programme (HRP) published new screening and treatment recommendations to prevent cervical cancer in women around the globe, including promoting the use of a more accurate and cost-effective human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA-based test.
The goal of this global strategy is to have 70% of women tested by 2030, supported by several efforts:
- Administering the more accurate – and also more cost-effective – HPV DNA test, not a visual inspection with acetic acid, or Pap smear, which are more common.
- More access to self-sampling (and the necessary commodities to support it)
- Ensure all women have access to screening
- Women with HIV: start cervical cancer screening at an earlier age (25 years, versus the general population recommendation of 30 years) and more frequently since women with HIV are six times more likely to get HPV.
- Women who test positive for cervical cancer should receive treatment soon after diagnosis. Ensure the continuum of care: that health care providers are informed in a timely manner about the results of the screening test and can in turn share this information with their client, and that women can access appropriate treatment or referral if needed