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Community-based self-collected human papillomavirus screening in rural Zimbabwe



In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), women have limited access to and uptake of cervical cancer screening. Delayed diagnosis leads to poorer outcomes and early mortality, and continues to impede cancer control disproportionately in LMIC. Integrating self-collected, community-based screening for High Risk-Human Papilloma Virus (HR-HPV) into existent HIV programs is a potential screening method to identify women at high risk for developing high-risk cervical lesions.


We implemented community-based cross-sectional study on self-collection HR-HPV screening in conjunction with existing community outreach models for the distribution of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the World Health Organization Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) outreach in villages in rural Zimbabwe from January 2017 through May 2017.


Overall, there was an 82% response rate: 70% of respondents participated in self-collection and 12% were ineligible for the study (inclusion criteria: age 30-65, not pregnant, with an intact uterus). Women recruited in the first 2-3 months of the study had more opportunities to participate and therefore significantly higher participation: 81% participation (additional 11% ineligible), while those with fewer opportunities also had lower participation: 63% (additional 13% ineligible) (p < 0.001). Some village outreach centers (N = 5/12) had greater than 89% participation.


Integration of HR-HPV screening into existing community outreach models for HIV and immunizations could facilitate population-based screening to scale cancer control and prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Community/village health workers (CHW/VHW) and village outreach programs offer a potential option for cervical cancer screening programs to move towards improving access of sexual and reproductive health resources for women at highest risk.

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