Nine in ten women do not know what causes cervical cancer, Lancet Group of Laboratories has said in a report.
The report said only 3 per cent know the link between the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer.
"Not knowing that HPV causes cervical cancer is like not knowing that HIV causes AIDS! Just like HIV testing is done to identify those infected before they progress to the stage of immunodeficiency, so should HPV be tested before women progress to pre- cancerous and cancer stages, because once it is identified as positive, someone can be treated," said Ahmed Kalebi, Group Managing Editor at Lancet Laboratories.
HPV is spread sexually and women tend to be infected with it at one time in their lives.
“The fact that less than 5 per cent of women know about the link between HPV and cervical cancer should be a wake-up call to all stakeholders, for without awareness, it is unlikely that women would seek HPV vaccination, for themselves and their daughters, and also unlikely that they’ll appreciate the value of HPV testing,” Kalebi added.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Kenyan women.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows that 2,454 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer, while 1,676 people die from it.
Last year, Lancet introduced the "evalyn brush" into the market to help in cervical cancer screening.
The brush is a self testing kit that a woman can use to collect samples at the comfort of her house and bring it back to the lab for interpretation.
According to the study, 49 per cent were of the opinion that this tool can help turn the tide in the number of women going for cervical cancer screenings.
"We need to inform and urge women to check themselves for HPV as this enables them to know whether they are at risk of getting cervical cancer or not," Kalebi added.
In Kenya, pap smears are part of our screening programs as compared to other countries like, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands and the United Kingdom who have switched to HPV testing.
Pap test only screen for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix and the opening of the uterus while the HPV test, detects the presence of the human papillomavirus, which can lead to the development of genital warts, abnormal cervical cells and cervical cancer.
The study was conducted in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa counties in October last year.
A total of 327 women were sampled majority of whom were married.
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