Global disparities in cervical cancer rates among women with HIV

24.06.2019 – A study by an international group of researchers led by a team at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, found that the incidence rates of cervical cancer are particularly high among women living with HIV in South Africa or Latin America.

For this study recently published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers used data from a collaboration between global HIV cohort research networks to compare cervical cancer rates in 45 countries across Europe, South Africa, Latin, and North America among women living with HIV who initiated antiretroviral therapy between 1996 and 2014. Among 64,231 women included in the analysis, 356 incident cervical cancer cases were diagnosed. At 5 years after initiation of antiretroviral therapy, cervical cancer rates were more than double in Latin America and 11 times higher in South Africa than in Europe, but similar in North America. Older age and advanced immunodeficiency at initiation of antiretroviral therapy increased the risk of developing cervical cancer.

The researchers noted that improving access to early antiretroviral treatment and effective cervical cancer screening among women living with HIV should be key parts of efforts to reduce global cancer-related health disparities.

Figure adapted from Rohner E, Bütikofer L, Schmidlin K, et al. Cervical cancer risk in women living with HIV across four continents: A multicohort study. Int J Cancer. 2019 Jun 19. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32260.