Women living with HIV and Cervical Cancer


November 2019 Out now! A slightly updated edition of this booklet is available here. It is also available in Spanish and in French.

International Women’s Day 2019: Out now: our advocacy booklet on women living with HIV, HPV and Cervical Cancer. To access the booklet, click here.

Introduction: At the end of 2018, Salamander Trust received funding from UNAIDS to bolster civil society’s advocacy, communications and consultations with women living with HIV and partners on two key issues: Dolutegravir (DTG) and cervical cancer.

Webinar: On November 20th Salamander Trust organised a webinar on Women Living with HIV and cervical cancer.  Click here to listen to the webinar and click here for the Salamander slides and here for the UNAIDS slides.  Special thanks to Dr Deborah von Zinkernagel, Director, Community Support, Social Justice and Inclusion, UNAIDS for joining this webinar and providing an introduction.

Background: The WHO 2017 Consolidated Guideline on the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of women living with HIV is a ground-breaking document, which upholds the rights of women in several key areas. Since 2013, Salamander played a major role facilitating the global values and preferences survey on the SRHR of women living with HIV. This fed into the development of the new consolidated guideline. As part of this process, WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research asked Salamander to develop a checklist tool, to support women in countries to ensure the full implementation of the guideline. This tool has now been endorsed by the heads of 5 UN agencies.

Reason for this work: UNAIDS has now asked Salamander to take this process further. No matter how great the guideline is, women continue to face challenges in accessing treatment options and services. This is evident by the fact that cervical cancer affects over half a million women and kills more than a quarter of a million women each year. One woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes and women living with HIV are 4-5 times more vulnerable to developing cervical cancer. In 2018, approximately 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 266,000 women died of the disease. Nearly 90% of these women live in lower and middle income countries in Africa, parts of Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Women with compromised immune systems are far less likely to clear having Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer; and women living with HIV are more likely to develop pre-invasive lesions that can, if left untreated, quickly progress to invasive, life-threatening cervical cancer.

What we have produced: As an outcome of our work the following is now available:

  • An advocacy brief that is owned by women living with HIV. This highlights recommendations to governments at the national level; and technical partners such as UNAIDS and WHO. These recommendations are intended to strengthen messaging and actions to support it; and reflect and communicate diverse realities, priorities and rights of women living with HIV around cervical cancer related prevention, treatment and services.
  • Host a virtual sharing platform (on whats app as this is easy for many women to engage) where information on what is happening is being shared in real time and support and linkages can be made across countries and regions.
  • Develop a series of 15-minute podcasts called The WHAVE (Women with HIV: Advocates, Voices, Empowered). These are being recorded by women living with HIV from around the world and will include a specific podcast on cervical cancer.

To review a full note for the record from the Webinar click here.

More resources are available here:

  • UNAIDS #BeTeamWomen: facebook live session on An avoidable tragedy: Eliminating cervical cancer as a public health concern.” January 2019
  • Webinar and further info from Union for International Cancer Control December 2018
  • UNAIDS / Salamander Trust: “Women living with HIV and cervical cancer: a community webinar” November 2018
  • UNAIDS: “HPV, HIV and cervical cancer: leveraging synergies to save women’s lives” July 2016
  • “Cervical Cancer Screening of Women Living with HIV Infection: A Must in the Era of Antiretroviral Therapy” August 2007
  • HPV Information Centre website Not dated