RTI International receives National Cancer Institute grant to expand cervical cancer prevention in sub-Saharan Africa

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The National Cancer Institute has awarded RTI International a grant to support evaluation of cervical cancer screening initiatives in Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya.

Cervical cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa, in part because of the high rate of HIV infection in the region. Having HIV makes women almost six times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

Despite the urgent need to target cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, many prevention programs have not been able to operate on a large scale. Using the $1.42 million grant, RTI will study the cervical cancer screening program in Zambia, which is widely considered a success. Researchers will determine whether the program’s design is a fit for other sub-Saharan African countries and create a blueprint for extending its approach.

“Cervical cancer mortality has substantially declined in high income countries through targeted prevention and screening." said Tim Gabel, executive vice president of Social, Statistical, and Environmental Sciences at RTI. “This grant will allow RTI researchers to make a major contribution by identifying optimal approaches to scale up interventions and programs to decrease cervical cancer deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa and reduce the large disparities seen globally.”

Cervical cancer kills more than 270,000 women every year, 85 percent of them in the developing world, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Women are often diagnosed with cervical cancer during their most productive years, meaning the diagnosis has adverse effects on their families as well.

“Advances in treatment have allowed more women to live with HIV, but unfortunately, they are dying from cervical cancer,” said Sujha Subramanian, RTI Fellow in health economics and policy research and the principal investigator on the National Cancer Institute grant. “Serving more women through better screening programs can help reverse this trend.”

Highlights

  • The National Cancer Institute has awarded $1.42 million to RTI
  • The grant will fund work to support the expansion of cervical cancer screening programs in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Cervical cancer takes a heavy toll on women in the developing world, especially in areas with a high rate of HIV infection