Published in AIDSMEDS
13 October 2010
A simple DNA screening test for human papillomavirus (HPV) followed by treatment reduced the risk of developing precancerous lesions of the cervix by 80 percent in HIV-positive women over three years, according to a study published in the October 23 issue of AIDS. This method could dramatically expand early intervention efforts designed to reduce cervical cancer rates in women from resource-poor nations.
Women with HIV are at much higher risk of HPV infection—strains of which cause either genital warts or cervical and anal cancer—and of progression to cervical cancer than HIV-negative women. For this reason, regular screening and treatment for precancerous cervical lesions is a routine part of HIV care for women in the United States.
In fact, while cervical cancer was once a leading cause of death among all women, it is now relatively rare in wealthier countries. In resource-poor countries, however, the lack of resources means that many women are not appropriately screened or treated for precancerous lesions and that cervical cancer remains a significant threat to women’s health.