Rachel is one of the several clients who visited Cheziya Clinic in Gokwe South for their antiretroviral therapy ART resupply. A group educational talk on Cervical Cancer screening was given to clients in the waiting area. A number of clients opted in for the offered screening services, but Rachel remained behind.

“Although the nurse explained that women living with HIV were at high risk of contracting cervical cancer and were supposed to be screened every year, I did not feel the urgency to follow other clients who went for screening.” Said 45-year-old Rachel.

Rachel had maintained a healthy lifestyle, abstained from sexual promiscuity, and adhered to her HIV medication. It was on account of her healthy lifestyle that she never thought it possible that she could develop cervical cancer.

On her way back home, Rachel met USAID/ZHI supported Community Outreach Worker and they had a further discussion on cervical cancer. The Outreach Worker echoed everything that the cervical cancer nurse had said at the clinic and encouraged Rachel to go for cervical cancer screening that very week.

Later in the week Rachel went back to Cheziya clinic where she received an individualized                             pre-screening education and counselling. She opted in by way of an informed verbal consent and was screened for cervical cancer using Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid (VIAC).

Her result came out to be VIAC positive and eligible for either Cryotherapy or Thermocoagulation. On receiving the result, Rachel was devastated. It was realized that, generally, clients mistakenly take VIAC positive result as a confirmation of cervical cancer. Further counselling support was given to address the identified knowledge gap. Rachel was then treated by way of Thermocoagulation followed by a post procedure counselling where further questions from the client were answered and fears allayed.

Rachel went back to the clinic for her 6 weeks review. “I was not feeling any pain, the discussions that I had with the cervical cancer nurse gave me hope, I looked forward to the repeat VIAC which was scheduled 6 months from treatment day.

On 16th of January 2022, Rachel showed up for her repeat VIAC. Pre-procedure counselling was done followed by repeat VIAC post-treatment.  This time the result came out negative.

“I could not contain my joy. I now encourage every woman in my community to go for cervical cancer screening especially my peers living with HIV. Women should not wait until it’s too late, cervical cancer is preventable.”

Gokwe South district, working to complete the package of care for women on ART, aged 25-49years, offers free VIAC services at  two static sites and 34 health facilities as outreach sites.