Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 413–418 | Cite as

Cervical Cancer Stigma in Rural Kenya: What Does HIV Have to Do with It?

  • Joelle I. RosserEmail author
  • Betty Njoroge
  • Megan J. Huchko


Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death amongst women in sub-Saharan Africa, largely due to the lack of early screening and treatment. In addition to poor access to screening services, inadequate uptake of available services is a barrier to early identification of precancerous lesions. Given that cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted virus and is associated with HIV positivity, stigma is one of the potential barriers to the utilization of cervical cancer programs in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 419 women attending health facilities in rural western Kenya to measure levels of cervical cancer and HIV stigma and to measure the associations between cervical cancer stigma, HIV stigma, and HIV status. Women who qualified for cervical cancer screening were asked to complete an oral questionnaire using a modified 9-point HIV stigma scale. Low cervical cancer stigma was reported in this study, with only 85/419 (20.3 %) of respondents answering yes to at least one cervical cancer stigma question. However, cervical cancer stigma was highly correlated with HIV stigma (correlation coefficient 0.72) and was significantly lower in HIV-positive women (p < 0.001). Reducing cervical cancer stigma in the general population is an important part of promoting screening in sub-Saharan Africa.


Cervical cancer Stigma Sub-Saharan Africa HIV Health education 


Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    Jemal A, Bray F, Center MM, Ferlay J, Ward E, Forman D (2011) Global cancer statistics. CA Cancer J Clin 61(2):69–90CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ntekim A. Cervical Cancer in Sub Sahara Africa, Topics on cervical cancer with an advocacy for prevention 2012. Available from: Available from:
  3. 3.
    Huchko MJ, Bukusi EA, Cohen CR (2011) Building capacity for cervical cancer screening in outpatient HIV clinics in the Nyanza province of western Kenya. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 114(2):106–110CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mwanahamuntu MH, Sahasrabuddhe VV, Pfaendler KS, Mudenda V, Hicks ML, Vermund SH et al (2009) Implementation of “see-and-treat” cervical cancer prevention services linked to HIV care in Zambia. AIDS 23(6):N1–N5CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    White HL, Mulambia C, Sinkala M, Mwanahamuntu MH, Parham GP, Moneyham L et al (2012) “Worse than HIV” or “not as serious as other diseases”? conceptualization of cervical cancer among newly screened women in Zambia. Soc Sci Med 74(10):1486–1493CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Turan JM, Miller S, Bukusi EA, Sande J, Cohen CR (2008) HIV/AIDS and maternity care in Kenya: how fears of stigma and discrimination affect uptake and provision of labor and delivery services. AIDS Care 20(8):938–945CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Turan JM, Bukusi EA, Onono M, Holzemer WL, Miller S, Cohen CR (2011) HIV/AIDS stigma and refusal of HIV testing among pregnant women in rural Kenya: results from the MAMAS Study. AIDS Behav 15(6):1111–1120CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gatune JW, Nyamongo IK (2005) An ethnographic study of cervical cancer among women in rural Kenya: is there a folk causal model? Int J Gynecol Cancer 15(6):1049–1059CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wood K, Jewkes R, Abrahams N (1997) Cleaning the womb: constructions of cervical screening and womb cancer among rural black women in South Africa. Soc Sci Med 45(2):283–294CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Weiser SD, Heisler M, Leiter K, Percy-de Korte F, Tlou S, DeMonner S et al (2006) Routine HIV testing in Botswana: a population-based study on attitudes, practices, and human rights concerns. PLoS Med 3(7):e261CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rosser JI, Njoroge B, Huchko MJ. Cervical cancer screening knowledge and behavior among women attending an urgan HIV clinic in western Kenya. J Canc Educ. 2015Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joelle I. Rosser
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Betty Njoroge
    • 3
  • Megan J. Huchko
    • 4
  1. 1.School of MedicineEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Microbiology ResearchKenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)Mbagathi WayKenya
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive HealthUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations