THE Cancer Association of Namibia has announced the launch of the first national Human Papilloma Virus-screening programme, which contributes to the prevention of cervical cancer in Namibia.
The pilot programme in partnership with ROCHE, Maxi Labs and Biodynamics will officially commence on Monday, 9 September.
It sees the complimentary screening of an initial 500 women for the HPV. In addition to the ROCHE donation, a further 200 test kits were donated by the DKFZ (German Cancer Research Foundation) this week.
HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer and by mobilising HPV-testing in Namibia, CAN and partners pave the way for preventative molecular testing of cervical cancer. HPV is a sexual transmitted viral infection that the body in most cases can clear itself from transient disease.
With recurring infections, additional infection by HIV, or in cases where the immune system of the woman simply cannot fight the high-risk viral strain, HPV may lead to the development of a cancerous lesion in the cervix. Molecular diagnostic HPV testing can augment screening for cervical cancer when used in conjunction with the traditional Pap smear, thus allowing for a singular, more comprehensive and thorough investigation.
Women who are HPV+ and HIV+ are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer, and while annual pap smears help detect cell abnormalities through DNA-testing, the potential patient can be managed and treated more effectively, prior to cancer even developing in most cases.
“The general timeline from HPV infection to possible cervical cancer is 10 years. Thus, quality testing and management of HPV means that we can effectively save more lives, more cost-effectively, with less hassle and invasive procedures for women. All of this while the strain on our national healthcare system is lifted,” explains CAN’s Chief Executive Officer, Rolf Hansen.
Should a patient remain both HPV and HIV negative, the traditional pap smear falls away and interval screening of 5 to10 years is applicable.