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HR-HPV in rural Zimbabwe

Megan Fitzpatrick

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Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer and cancer-related death and dis-proportionally affects women in low- and middle-income countries (1). Zimbabwe ranks fifth in age-standardized cervical cancer incidence (1). High-risk Human Papillomavirus (HR-HPV) has been implicated in >95% of cervical cancer cases and is unique in that screening for the virus can also allow for early detection and prevention of a cancers (2). Human papillomavirus infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease worldwide and is considered a co-morbid opportunistic infection in the setting of HIV infection (3). Self-collected, community based screening for HR-HPV offers a potential primary screening method in areas of limited resources to triage women at highest risk for developing high-risk lesions for referral to VIAC, thus decreasing the burden on the already overburdened system and potentially increasing specificity of detection of clinically risky lesions. Self-collection via community mobilization via village health workers offers a potential to reach women who otherwise may not be screened (13-15). The current project in Zimbabwe utilizes many of these self collection methods, including a new menstrual blood collection device, to analyze the prevalence of high-risk Human Papillomavirus subtypes among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in rural Zimbabwe using self-collection methods.

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