ISPM collaborator Dr. Mazvita Sengayi reports on her HIV research in South Africa

Mazvita Sengayi

“Uncovering linkages between HIV and cancer in South Africa” was the title of a Q&A interview with epidemiologist Dr. Mazvita Sengayi published recently on the website of US-based CRDF Global, a non-profit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training, and services.

Dr. Sengayi, a senior epidemiologist at the National Health Laboratory Service in South Africa, completed her PhD degree at the ISPM in 2016. She was awarded a grant to investigate the burden of cancers attributable to HIV at a national level. South Africa has about 6.8 million HIV-positive residents and the largest population living with HIV in the world.

“What many people don’t know is that HIV is actually a carcinogen — capable of causing cancer,” says Sengayi. “While the impact of HIV/AIDS is well documented, cancer is sometimes overlooked in the public as an emerging and deadly health issue among low-to middle-income countries.”

The project builds on a collaboration between South Africa’s National Cancer Registry (NCR) and ISPM (collaborators: PD Dr. med. Julia Bohlius and Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Egger) to create a South African national cohort of HIV-positive children and adults and link this cohort to the NCR. The South African HIV Cancer Match study (SAM) receives funding from PEPFAR and the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number 320030_169967). According to Sengayi, SAM is “a probabilistic record linkage study of a national HIV cohort created from HIV laboratory data (CD4 counts, viral load, HIV tests) linked to NCR data in order to study spectrum and incidence of cancer in HIV-positive people at a national level.”