About Cervical Cancer


  • Cervical cancer is usually caused by the sexually transmitted infection Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Two types of HPV (“16″ and “18”) are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancer deaths
  • Cervical cancer affects women mostly in their forties and fifties.
  • Infection typically persists for many years and progresses through to precancerous lesions before turning into full blown cervical cancer


  • The widely used method for cervical cancer screening in industrialized countries is Pap screening, which detects precancerous cervical changes
  • Pap screening requires significant infrastructure and investment to be properly implemented
  • Pap screening has limited accuracy (a sensitivity rate of less than 55%), therefore, requiring women to be tested several times in their life time
  • In low-resource countries like Uganda the greatest public health impact is observed when women between 30-69 years are screened once in a lifetime


  • The prevalence of HPV among women in Uganda is about 33.6%
  • In Uganda approximately 3,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and almost 2,500 die of the disease each year
  • About 80% of women who get screened for cervical cancer in Uganda are in the late, incurable stages of the disease. These women are often still in productive years of their lives when their families and communities are heavily reliant on them both socially and economically.
  • High HPV prevalence combined with low cervical cancer screening uptake have resulted in Uganda having one of the highest cervical cancer incidence rates worldwide at about 47.5/100,00 per year
  • Even if HPV vaccination were scaled up in Uganda, there are thousands of women who are already infected with HPV that will make cervical cancer screening programs necessary for decades to come


  • There are few health care facilities that currently offer cervical cancer screening, making the necessary travel a difficult for many women
  • The gap in general knowledge about cervical cancer screening and HPV in Uganda
  • Traditional cervical cancer screening methods require skilled professionals and medical infrastructure that often doesn’t exist in regions where many women are infected with HPV
  • There is a shortage of healthcare workers in Uganda, one doctor per 10,000 people compared to the USA where there are 24 doctors per 10,000 people

ASPIRE aims to address each of these barriers to ultimately reduce the global burden of cervical cancer. For more information see “About the Project” or our Key Publications page.