The Impact of HPV on Cervical Cancer and the Challenges Faced by Black Women in South Africa

The Impact of HPV on Cervical Cancer and the Challenges Faced by Black Women in South Africa

This article discusses the impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) on cervical cancer and the challenges faced by black women in South Africa. The cervix is made up of three layers, and HPV infection can lead to changes in the DNA of the cervix, eventually causing abnormal cell growth and potentially leading to cancer. It is estimated that 99% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.

Black women in South Africa are disproportionately affected by HPV and cervical cancer. This is due to a combination of factors, such as poverty, lack of access to nutritious food, and the high prevalence of HIV. A healthy immune system is crucial in fighting off HPV, but the majority of women in South Africa do not have a healthy immune system due to these factors.

Moreover, the healthcare system in South Africa also contributes to the challenges faced by black women. Access to preventative measures, such as screening and vaccination, is difficult for many women, especially black women. Women often face delays in receiving Pap smear results or encounter healthcare professionals who are unavailable. The government system currently recommends Pap smears every 10 years, but in the private sector, they are done annually.

Vaccination is an important preventive measure against HPV. It prepares the immune system to fight against HPV and can help increase the pool of people who can eliminate the virus. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have almost eliminated cervical cancer through widespread vaccination.

It is also important to acknowledge that boys and men can be carriers of HPV. Although cases of penile cancer are rare, boys who engage in certain sexual behaviors can be at risk of developing rectal or throat cancer. Vaccinating boys and men against HPV should be considered to prevent transmission to girls and women.

The article concludes by highlighting the need for political will to address the issue of cervical cancer. If cervical cancer predominantly affected men, vaccination would likely be more widespread. The government hospitals in South Africa offer treatment options for cervical cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, depending on the stage of the cancer.

In conclusion, HPV has a significant impact on cervical cancer, particularly among black women in South Africa. Addressing the challenges faced by these women, including poverty and lack of access to healthcare, is essential in reducing the burden of cervical cancer in the country.

– Source article: Langanani Mbodi, “Lack of political will means cervical cancer is preventable yet killing women in South Africa,” The Daily Maverick
– Definitions: HPV – Human papillomavirus

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