ZIMBABWE – The University of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the University of California – San Francisco project director, Dr. Nyaradzo Mgodi, was on Monday expected to release findings of two studies conducted in Zimbabwe and other African countries to establish the safety and effectiveness of an antiretroviral drug, Daprivine, for HIV prevention using a virginal ring.
The results will be published at a conference on retroviruses and opportunistic infections which is being held in Boston and ends Thursday.
Dr. Mugodi said even if the results fail to prove that Deprivine could lower the risk of HIV transmission, the study would still provide answers to some of the researchers’ key questions.
The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.
CROI is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation to clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on Health met with a delegation from the Health Ministry on Monday to discuss the high prevalence and mortality rates of cervical cancer among Zimbabwean women.
Health Ministry officials say 2,200 new cases of cervical cancer are detected annually with the mortality rate standing at 1,700 per year.
Doctor Annette Moyo, a local physician, says it is important for women to go for early cancer screening to enable them to undergo treatment and to avoid fatalities.
“The mortality rate figures are alarming, our hope is that we can reduce them through early detection and early treatment to avoid complications later,” said Dr. Moyo, who emphasized that cervical cancer was now surpassing breast cancer in its mortality rate.
Addressing the committee, Dr. Maxwell Hove said the country has two hubs in the country with specialized equipment.
“One is located at Parirenyatwa Hospital covering five provinces in the northern side while the second is at Mpilo in Bulawayo covering five provinces in the south. We are unable to decentralise because of lack of specialists, all provinces have to refer to these two centers,” said Dr. Hove.
He added that cervical cancer is the biggest challenge of all the cancers in the country, accounting for 18% while the other types of cancers range from 10% downwards.
Permanent secretary for the Health Ministry, Gerald Gwinji, said there were no known causes of cancer but said unhealthy lifestyles could also contribute to the disease.
“We don’t know all the causes of cancer, some are caused by unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy foods and exposure to certain chemicals,” he told the committee.
Epidemiologist, Dr. Portia Manhangazira, told the committee that cancer of the cervics was now mainly affecting much young women.
“According to the World Health Organisation, a girl who is vaccinated between 9-13 years is protected for life provided they get the 2 doses,” said Dr. Manhangazira.
Speaking at the same meeting, Dr. Bernard Madzima of the Minisry of Health said the prevalence rate for cervical cancer in the country was high.
“We have 2,270 women who are diagnosed of cervical cancer each year, 1,700 die of cervical each year,” said Dr. Madzima.