It’s time for global cervical cancer funders to prioritize HPV testing.

This piece was originally featured on the TogetHER for Health blog.

The world has a new blueprint to save millions of women – including many women living with HIV – from dying of cervical cancer. How long must women around the world wait to see that promise fulfilled?

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) published updated guidelines for screening and treatment of pre-cancer lesions for cervical cancer prevention, providing a clear mandate and scientific rationale for global adoption of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as the recommended screening method for women worldwide.

To put it more simply, it’s a plan for a smarter, faster, and more effective end to cervical cancer around the world. Implementing this guidance can vastly multiply the number of women being accurately screened, allow for more efficient allocation of women’s health resources, and reduce reliance on less-reliable and often more-invasive screening interventions.

Converting this guidance into programs in low- and middle-income countries can put the world on the path toward ensuring that 70% of all women receive screening for cervical cancer at ages 35 and 45, a key pillar of the WHO’s strategy to accelerate the global elimination of cervical cancer.

This guidance is the product of years of productive collaboration between experts, communities, and funders. Notably, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria all contributed to this groundbreaking process.

Together, these key organizations provided two-thirds of all funding for cervical cancer screening and treatment programs in low- and lower middle-income countries in 2019, placing them in a unique position to not just influence guidelines but to concretely implement that guidance in the programs they fund.

TogetHER and AVAC have rallied a coalition of 39 organizations advocating for the global elimination of cervical cancer to acknowledge the roles that PEPFARthe Global Fund, and USAID have played in combating cervical cancer in low-resource settings and in creating these new guidelines.

More critically, our coalition is calling on these major funders to communicate their process and timeline for prioritizing HPV testing as the primary method for cervical cancer screening in the programs they support. Committing to the broader use of HPV testing within these programs demonstrates a clear commitment to quality of care for women, especially those living with HIV.

The world has made clear its dedication to end cervical cancer everywhere. With leadership from these major donors, the ambition of cervical cancer elimination can be translated into reality.

We know how to eliminate cervical cancer. It is now a matter of when this goal will be achieved.

  • TogetHER for Health
  • AVAC
  • American Cancer Society
  • FHI 360
  • Global Communities
  • Jhpiego
  • PATH
  • Pathfinder International
  • Population Services International
  • Advocates for Youth
  • AIDS Action Baltimore
  • American Medical Women’s Association
  • BIO Ventures for Global Health
  • Cervical Cancer Action for Elimination
  • Cervical Cancer Prevention and Training Centre in Catholic Hospital, Battor
  • Conquering Cancer
  • CureCervicalCancer
  • Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • ENGAGe Teens
  • EngenderHealth
  • ESGO Prevention Committee
  • Global Focus on Cancer
  • Global Initiative Against HPV and Cervical Cancer (GIAHC)
  • Go Doc Go
  • Grounds for Health
  • Haiti sans Cervical Cancer
  • Housing Works
  • IAVI
  • Innovating Health International
  • International Association of Providers of AIDS Care
  • John Snow International
  • KILELE Health Association
  • Kizazi Chetu
  • Management Sciences for Health
  • MSI Reproductive Choices
  • Scope
  • Treatment Action Group
  • VCS Foundation
  • International Taskforce on Cervical Cancer Elimination in the Commonwealth

Check out the video below to see how PSI Caribbean and Ayana Dyette Foundation for Cervical Cancer’s (ASDF) strong partnership has created an environment for growth and sustainability for cervical cancer awareness and advocacy in Trinidad and Tobago.

Banner photo credit: “Pineapple farm and rural village, Lao PDR” by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

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