A new collaborative study between researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and other partners confirms that women living with HIV have a significantly increased risk of cervical cancer, and quantifies the contribution of HIV to the global burden of cervical cancer. The publication of these results today, in the Lancet Global Health, coincides with the launch of the WHO Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer.
Globally, 5.8% of the new cases of cervical cancer in 2018 (33 000 new cases) were diagnosed in women living with HIV, and 4.9% of new cases (28 000 new cases) were attributable to HIV infection. The most affected world regions were southern and eastern Africa. In southern Africa, 63.8% of new cases of cervical cancer (9200 new cases) were diagnosed in women living with HIV, and in eastern Africa this percentage was 27.4% (14 000 new cases). Age-standardized incidence rates of HIV-attributable cervical cancer were higher than 20 per 100 000 in six countries, all of them in southern and eastern Africa.
This study shows that there is a substantial HIV-attributable cervical cancer burden in addition to the existing cervical cancer burden, particularly in southern and eastern Africa. The findings indicate that in settings with a high prevalence of HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical cancer screening are of paramount importance.
Stelzle D, Tanaka LF, Lee KK, Ibrahim Khalil A, Baussano I, Shah ASV, et al.
Estimates of the global burden of cervical cancer associated with HIV
Lancet Glob Health, Published online 17 November 2020;