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Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon's Commitment to Defeating Cervical Cancer
More than 90% of cervical cancer cases occur in low and middle-income countries. This disparity exists for many reasons, from lack of resources to insufficient technical training. Still, no woman should die from a preventable disease because she cannot access care. When considering the link between HIV and cervical cancer, the disparity becomes even more apparent. Since HIV significantly weakens the immune system, women living with HIV are four to five times more likely to develop cervical cancer. Women survive HIV only to succumb to cervical cancer. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon believes vaccination, screening, treatment, and policy development can reverse the course of cervical cancer in low and middle-income countries. Our results confirm our approach works.
Since HPV types 16 and 18 cause almost 70% of cervical cancer cases, one of PRRR’s main goals is to vaccinate girls against these strains of the virus. HPV is sexually transmitted, so our model aims to vaccinate girls between the ages of 9 and 13, likely before they have experienced their sexual debut. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. Research shows both Gardasil and Cervarix prevent close to 100% of HPV16 and 18 strains. With the support of PRRR and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, 147,497 girls have completed their HPV vaccination in Botswana, Zambia, and Ethiopia, nearly eliminating their cervical cancer risk for life.
Screening and Treatment
Research shows one-time screenings in low-income countries could prevent almost half of cervical cancer deaths. PRRR programs in Botswana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia have cumulatively screened 465,243 women for cervical cancer, 379,214 of them for the first time. And, by including 110,763 HIV-positive women in our screenings, we help to address the HIV-cervical cancer link.
Additionally, PRRR provides effective, low-cost treatments for women with cervical pre-cancer. PRRR and its partners have treated 29,827 women to date with cryotherapy and the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), and PRRR has referred 7,085 women for additional treatment. PRRR continues to explore screening and treatment options to impact more women.
Policy Development and Sustainability
PRRR incorporates countries’ unique resources to enhance programmatic sustainability, empowering them to lead and design their cervical cancer prevention and care programs. PRRR collaborates with the Office of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and partner countries to transition from PRRR support to in-country management. Recently, the Tanzanian government funded 100 cryotherapy and nine LEEP machines, with plans to scale up screening to 100 new health facilities.
PRRR coordinates public-private partnerships to combat cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. Leveraging existing programs and resources saves lives. Accelerating vaccination, facilitating increased access to screening, scaling up treatment options, and prioritizing policy development and sustainability can put an end to preventable cervical cancer deaths.
A Reflection from My Summer in Zambia
Bush Institute Global Health Associate Crystal Cazier has worked in the cancer space for eight years but says she didn’t fully understand the extent of the disease’s severity and gravity until she observed cervical cancer screening in Zambia this summer. Crystal explains how a better world where women do not succumb to horrific, preventable, and treatable diseases like cervical cancer is within reach.
Two-Minute Take: PEPFAR Matters to Americans
Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute Holly Kuzmich shares how PEPFAR has impacted millions of lives and what the new partnership with UNAIDS means for the program.
Blayne Smith, Jan Pruitt, and Bono Receive First Leadership Awards from the Bush Institute
Three outstanding leaders recognized at the inaugural Forum on Leadership