What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer starts in the lining of the cervix (which is the lowest part of the uterus). Most cervical cancers gradually develop from precancerous cells, but during that time there are rarely any symptoms. Cervical cancer kills 300,000 women per year worldwide, despite the fact that it is entirely preventable.

 What is HPV?          

Human Papilloma Virus, also known as HPV, is a sexually transmitted virus that is linked with over 90% of cervical cancer cases. The two strains of HPV that are preventable through vaccination (HPV 16 and HPV 18) are responsible for nearly 70% of cervical cancers. The vaccine is believed to be 99% effective, and HPV vaccination can therefore protect against up to 65-75% of cervical cancers.

How can Cervical Cancer be prevented?

Other ways of preventing HPV infection and cervical cancer are abstinence, use of condoms during intercourse and getting screened for cervical abnormalities called low grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL) or higher grade SIL (HSIL). Cervical cancer screening is a visual inspection of the cervix. In developed countries, advanced screening techniques using microscopic examination of the cells of the cervix (the Papanicolau test, or Pap smear) have greatly reduced the number of women with cervical cancer, but in developing countries getting women screened is a major barrier to cervical cancer prevention. Developing countries have successfully implemented a screening technique using acetic acid (vinegar) that shows abnormal cells in the cervix. However due to limited access to health care and knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer, almost nine out of ten (87%) cervical cancer deaths occur in less developed regions.

How many women have Cervical Cancer in Mali?

Cervical cancer is the most frequent kind of cancer in Malian women, and less than 4% of women get screened. An estimated of 1,862 Malian women are diagnosed and 1,261 women die from cervical cancer every year (67% of cervical cancers are fatal). HPV and cervical cancer are very prevalent in West Africa. In all of Western Africa 34.5/100,000 women have cervical cancer and 24.3/100,000 die from cervical cancer. Mali has the 14th highest rate of cervical cancers and that is why GAIA Vaccine Foundation is implementing education programs to reduce deaths from cervical cancer and advocating for HPV vaccination. Because the methods of preventing HPV share similarities to preventing HIV other STIs, GAIA VF is attempting to make prevention practices wide spread.

What are GAIA's actions to prevent Cervical Cancer?

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The following websites provide more information:

HPV testing and the various grades of abnormal tests 

Statistics in Mali 

WHO study on Cervical Cancer screening with Acetic Acid

Rates in Western Africa

Mali has the 14th highest rates of cervical cancer

Map showing parts of the world have high cervical cancer incidence