HIV-Positive Women’s Perceptions, Awareness, and Knowledge about Cervical Cancer Screening in Malawi: A Qualitative Study
Background: Malawi is among countries with highest rates of cervical cancer and HIV in the world. Evidence has shown that HIV-positive women have a higher risk of having abnormal cervical cells caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) than in HIV-negative women due to compromised immune system. However, there is a gap in the literature relating to cervical cancer and screening rate, knowledge, and behavior among Malawian HIV-positive women.
Objectives: To explore factors influencing cervical cancer screening among Malawian women living with HIV infection.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in one of the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) health facilities. Data were collected through an in-depth interview with 13 HIV positive women who were purposely selected to participate. Data were analyzed using content analysis.
Results: The study identified four major themes influencing screening which include 1) knowledge and attitudes; 2) social support networks; 3) socio-cultural factors; and 4) access to screening services.
Conclusion: The findings of the study should further be explored in a larger population based survey to develop specific and targeted interventions for promoting cervical cancer screening among Malawian women living with HIV infection.