March 7, 2014


A drug used to treat HIV has been found to be effective against cervical cancer. A three month course of the drug can eliminate the cancer.

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HIV drug effective at treating cervical cancer

HIV drug effective at treating cervical cancer

The fight against cervical cancer might have made a major breakthrough as a recent study has discovered that the disease can be cured in just three months by administering a common drug that has been used to treat HIV.


The study featured 40 cervical cancer patients who were put on the HIV drug Lopinavir for two weeks and three months and soon after more than 90 per cent of the patients were diagnosed as cancer free.

According to the study, which was conducted by researchers Dr Lynne and Dr Ian Hampson of Manchester University, UK, and Dr Innocent Orora Maranga of the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where the study took place, 19 women out of 23 who had earlier been diagnosed with high-grade cervical cancer returned to normal and two had low-grade disease and 17 showed improvement.

“For an early stage clinical trial, the results have exceeded our expectations. We have seen women with high-grade diseases revert to normal healthy cervix in a comparatively short period,” said Dr Hampson.


Cervical cancer begins in the lining of the cervix. It occurs when abnormal cells in the cervix turn into cancer cells and the disease is normally detected during a par smear test. The main cause of cervical cancer is now known to be infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). There are also other known risk factors like smoking.

There are two main types of cervical cancer which are named after the cells they start in: Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the most common type which accounts for about eight out of ten cases of the disease; and Adenocarcinoma which starts in the glandular cells and it’s reported to be quite difficult to diagnose since it occurs high in the cervix which is difficult to reach with the tools used for testing. However it’s a rare type.


Globally, cancer causes more deaths than HIV, TB and malaria combined while in Kenya the disease is the third highest cause of morbidity [7% of deaths per year], after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

Cervical cancer is the second leading form of cancer in women (25 per 100,000) after breast cancer (34 per 100,000).

Unfortunately, 70-80 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed in late stages owing to lack of awareness, inadequate diagnostic facilities, the lack of treatment facilities, the high cost of treatment and high poverty Index.


18 percent of cervical cancer patients in the country are reported to die within two years of diagnosis and if this ‘miracle cervical cancer cure’ is anything to go by, then this is indeed good news.


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