SEPTEMBER is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and an opportunity for Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS health provider globally, to raise awareness about cervical cancer and the heightened risk for those living with HIV.
South Africa continues to be encumbered with the highest levels of HIV infection in the world, with 7.2 million people presently living with HIV/AIDS. Sixty percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are women.
One in 39 South African women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, making it the second most prevalent cancer in women according to the cancer association of South Africa.
Cervical cancer occurs when the cells in the cervix become abnormal and result in tumour formation. Identification and removal of pre-cancerous cells of the cervix can render this disease virtually preventable.
Hilary Thulare, AHF South Africa Country Programme Director says: “Women infected with HPV are also more at risk of acquiring HIV.
“Primary prevention for contracting HPV is condom use, delaying sexual debut, reducing one’s number of sexual partners, to stop smoking (or rather to never start) and to vaccinate girls between the ages of nine and 13 years.”
A pap smear is a screening test by a healthcare provider that involves swabbing cervical cells.
This simple procedure is mildly uncomfortable but not painful and yields results on the health of cells.
Women from the age of 30 should receive regular pap smears.
This age has been brought forward from the previous age of 40 years.
HIV positive woman are tested from the age of 18 years.
CERVICAL SCREENING AWARENESS DAY IN WARD 14
Operation Sukuma Sakhe, in partnership with the Department of Health; Department of Agriculture; Umvoti Municipality; Umvoti Aids Centre; and Phila Mntwana Centre held a malnutrition and cervical screening awareness day on September 12 at Inkosi Mbongeleni area in Ingome.
Women must be educated on the importance of regular pap smears so that abnormal cells can be treated before becoming cancer.
Malnutrition remains a challenge for our poverty stricken communities and much more education, awareness and collaborative efforts need to be done in order to tackle this epidemic. Services that were offered included blood pressure, eye, cervical, malnutrition and diabetic screening.