Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) are six times more likely to develop pre-cancerous lesions that leads to cervical cancer, according to the technical director, Reaching Impact Saturation and Epidemic Control (RISE).
In view of this, RISE with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hascommenced cervical cancer prevention programme integrated into the routine HIV treatment services as part of the comprehensive services aimed at optimizing health outcomes for PLWHIV and achieving HIV/AIDS epidemic control.
The state technical director, JPIEGHO, Dr Chris Anyanwu,revealed this during the 2022 World Cancer Day in Uyo.
Anyanwu said that RISE an affiliate in compliance with the global national clinical guidance in the provision of services, one of such is the screening of women with long-standing HIV infection done at age 15, with subsequent screening every two years based on PEPFAR modeling until 49 years.
He also held that WLHIV between 50-65 years not screened might be offered a single screening test, which should be discontinued if negative.
The technical director stated that the programmes were executed in collaboration with stakeholders such as the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPHWAN) and Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN), among others.
Donald Akpenna, state representative RISE hinted that RISE which operates in five states in Nigeria, including Akwa Ibom, has five-year plan with the target to eliminate cervical cancer by the year 2030.
He said services against the disease exist in 10 treatment sites and 27 screening sites for the treatment.
The beneficiary of thermal ablators distributed at the World Cancer Day are: General Hospitals, Ikot Ekpene, Ikono and that of Ukpom in Abak.
Others are: Cottage Hospital, Ukana, West Itam Health Centre and Comprehensive Health Centre, Nto Edino, Etim Ekpo.
Akpenna stressed that cervical cancer was ravaging the world and that women living with HIV were six times more likely to suffer cervical cancer, adding that early screening of perinatalinfection of girls at age 15 with subsequent screening every two years till 49 years is recommended.
He explained that the thermal ablator machines help to remove the pre-cancerous region during treatment and advised women to go for test for early detection as RISE was scaling up its services to meet the set target.
On the celebration set-aside by the International Union AgainstCancer (IUCC) with the ratification of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the state team lead noted that it sought to promote research, raise awareness and mobilize global community to fight cancer.
“The World Cancer Day also serves as an opportunity to create awareness to no longer ignore cervical cancer as a global health issue nor continue to overlook the unnecessary deaths that raise from socio-economic disparities and stigma and move towards the achievement of WHO’s global strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem through the 90-7-90 targets for 2030,” he said.
On the theme of the celebration: “Close the Care Grap,” the team lead maintained that it stresses the lack of equity in cancer care and barriers that exists in accessing services.
Akpenna said that with the foregoing, RISE Nigeria, with funding from USAID was intensifying its cervical cancer prevention programme, with integrated routine HIV treatment services as part of the comprehensive services aimed at optimizing health outcomes of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
He called on leaders of communities to take responding by sensitizing their women to access available services at designated sites for a zero cervical cancer in Akwa Ibom.
The representative of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health, Mrs Emem Xavier, applauded JPIEGHO for helping the state in the fight against cancer, noting that the phenomena entails the taking of timely actions by getting women screened and treated to save lives.
Xavier assured that the ministry would continue to create an enabling environment with the commitment to deliver quality healthcare to the people.
The South-South zonal coordinator, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Uduak Daniel, felicitated with JHPIEGHO and RISE for making the world cervical cancer day in the state.
She reiterated the commitment of the agency to collaborate with implementing partners and other service providers to drive programmes that impact communities, while urging them to extend services to the keep populations as necessary.
Dr Idayat Uthman, state representative, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said with the prevalent of cervical cancer among HIV infected women, calls for more screening of women to avoid mortality.
The monitoring and evaluation officer, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (AKSACA), MrEmmanuel Benson, implored health personal to make good usage of the equipment and to report any technical fault for prompt action towards meeting the set target.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, the medical superintendent, General Hospital, Ukpom, Abak, Dr UmohBassey appreciated JPIEGHO for empowering them to work conveniently at the health facilities.
The event featured goodwill messages by the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN) and Association of Women Living HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN).
In Nigeria, cervical cancer is a major reproductive health problem, with estimated 40 million women aged 15 and above at risk.
It is estimated that 135,000 new cases and 83,000 deaths on cervical cancer will occur in 2030.