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What we intend to do…


To develop a creative comprehensive and interdisciplinary cervical cancer research program on women to address the urgent need to lower the burden and associated morbidity and mortality of HIV-associated cervical cancer.  The specific aims are

  • To determine the epidemiology, pathogenesis, behavioural, clinical, and immunological risk factors, and optimal therapeutic approaches of HPV-associated cervical cancer in HIV-seropositive women in Botswana which can be translated into effective prevention and treatment strategies.


There are three research projects that address women in different settings are proposed:

  • The project 1 titled: “Natural history and pathogenesis of HPV in HIV Infected women with cervical cancer”,

This project will explore the interaction of HIV and its associated immunosuppression with HPV (and other infections including other sexually transmitted infections [STI]) infection and how this interaction leads to the development of cervical cancer.

  • Project 2 titled: “Factors associated with HPV screening and acquisition in young women in Botswana”.

This project will explore the behavioural aspects that lead to 1) the acquisition of HIV, HPV, and STI; 2) the decisions to engage in cervical cancer screening, and 3) the decisions to seek and continue therapy for cervical cancer.

  • Project 3 titled: “The impact of HIV infection and immune reconstitution on tolerability and response to chemo-radiation for cervical cancer”,

This project will explore the role of immunosuppression and response to treatment (chemoradio-therapy) once cervical cancer develops for developing effective treatment regimens.

The Primary Issues

Cervical cancer continues to be a major worldwide health concern and makes up about 12% of all the cancers in women. It is one of the major AIDS defining cancers in HIV positive women with an impact which is felt generally across the low and middle income countries. Increasingly high risk behaviour in young women puts them at risk for acquiring the germ called Human Papilloma virus (HPV) at a higher rate and this same high risk behaviour also predisposes them for HIV infection. In Botswana the rate is staggering and the need to address this dramatic infectious pandemic is dire. Many women in Botswana suffer with cervical cancer (cancer of the month of the womb) caused by HPV. This germ is very common. However, of the many women who get this infection only a few develop the cancer.  This program is collaborative effort of a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Botswana and the University of Pennsylvania.