TANZANIA—UN Women Tanzania, in conjunction with partners and local HIV-positive women’s networks, has launched an initiative to raise awareness and advocate for cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment among low-income women and those living with HIV.

This project, which is being conducted in Tanzania’s Kagera and Mwanza areas, entails training community volunteers, including HIV-positive women, to effectively boost cervical cancer awareness.

Some of the women being checked have been living with HIV for years and have been experiencing unexplained pain and discomfort, which are thought to be evidence of cervical cancer or symptoms.

Following the screening, selected network members participate in cervical cancer advocacy training.

The Network of Women Living with HIV has since begun community mobilization campaigns, using a variety of tactics to educate their communities on the early indicators of cervical cancer, treatment choices, HPV vaccines, and the significance of frequent screening.

Over the last six months, the initiative has reached around 250 houses in five wards of Bukoba district, educating families on cervical cancer.

UN Women has also worked with local radio stations and attended public events to guarantee the broadest possible exposure, particularly in Kagera.

The project focuses on boosting HIV-positive women and young women’s awareness, which is critical for prevention, screening, and treatment.

More than 1,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer as a result of these campaigns.

Ms. Neema Kyamba, the Kagera region’s maternity and child health coordinator, acknowledged the project’s impact, adding that many women now have a better understanding of cervical cancer and are more proactive about their health.

As a result, more women, particularly those living with HIV, are seeking screening services.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer among women worldwide, with roughly 660,000 new cases and 350,000 deaths expected in 2022.

Cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates are highest in low- and middle-income nations, such as Tanzania, where it kills more women than any other disease.

Every year, approximately 10,241 women between the ages of 15 and 44 are diagnosed with cervical cancer, with 6,525 dying as a result of delayed diagnosis, highlighting significant inequities caused by a lack of access to national HPV vaccination, cervical screening, treatment services, and social and economic factors.

Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV-positive women are six times more likely to acquire cervical cancer than HIV-negative women.

Prophylactic HPV vaccination, as well as screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions, are extremely successful and cost-efficient strategies for cervical cancer prevention.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial for curing cervical cancer, with countries worldwide striving to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030 through agreed-upon targets.

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