Association of HIV status and treatment characteristics with VIA screening outcomes in Malawi: A retrospective analysis

Samuel Lewis, Misheck Mphande, Florence Chibwana, Temwa Gumbo, Ben Allan Banda, Hitler Sigauke, Agnes Moses, Sundeep Gupta, Risa M. Hoffman, Corrina Moucheraud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Although evidence from high-resource settings indicates that women with HIV are at higher risk of acquiring high-risk HPV and developing cervical cancer, data from cervical cancer “screen and treat” programs using visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) in lower-income countries have found mixed evidence about the association between HIV status and screening outcomes. Moreover, there is limited evidence regarding the effect of HIV-related characteristics (e.g., viral suppression, treatment factors) on screening outcomes in these high HIV burden settings. Methods This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between HIV status, HIV treatment, and viral suppression with cervical cancer screening outcomes. Data from a “screen and treat” program based at a large, free antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi was retrospectively analyzed to determine rates of abnormal VIA results and suspected cancer, and coverage of same-day treatment. Multivariate logistic regression assessed associations between screening outcomes and HIV status, and among women living with HIV, viremia, ART treatment duration and BMI. Results Of 1405 women receiving first-time VIA screening between 2017–2019, 13 (0.9%) had suspected cancer and 68 (4.8%) had pre-cancerous lesions, of whom 50 (73.5%) received same-day lesion treatment. There was no significant association found between HIV status and screening outcomes. Among HIV+ women, abnormal VIA was positively associated with viral load ≥ 1000 copies/mL (aOR 3.02, 95% CI: 1.22, 7.49) and negatively associated with ART treatment duration (aOR 0.88 per additional year, 95% CI: 0.80, 0.98). Conclusion In this population of women living with HIV with high rates of ART coverage and viral suppression, HIV status was not significantly associated with abnormal cervical cancer screening results. We hypothesize that ART treatment and viral suppression may mitigate the elevated risk of cervical cancer for women living with HIV, and we encourage further study on this relationship in high HIV burden settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0262904
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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