Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS)

Our BMS Foundation will grant $203,148 to help this project determine the magnitude of co-morbidity of HIV and cancer among the elderly through community-based studies by CUHAS medical students in Shinyanga, a rural region of Tanzania.


Cancer of the cervix is the leading malignancy among women in Tanzania. It is estimated that each year there are 44,000 new cases of cancer. Studies have reported significant association between cervical cancer and HIV among women in their reproductive age. Unfortunately, a substantial portion of the cancer patients present late with advanced stages of cancer which may lead to poor prognosis. This may be explained by poor health-seeking behavior, poor knowledge of cervical cancer symptoms, limited expertise and lack of routine screening infrastructure in the regional and district hospitals of Tanzania.

In rural settings, women and the elderly population may be faced with dual burden of HIV and cancer. With accessibility of antiretroviral drugs, people in those areas with HIV live longer, although mortality attributed to cancer is substantially higher. Early detection and treatment of cancer improve the prognosis and hence the quality of life. Provision of health education on symptoms, risk factors, and availability of screening and treatment options can reduce proportion of mortality that is attributed to cancer and improve quality of life among people living with HIV (PLHIV).

The proposed project will involve women of reproductive age and the elderly population in Shinyanga region, a region with high HIV prevalence and poor health facility infrastructure. Therefore, this project aims to conduct community-based research to determine the magnitude of HIV-cancer of the cervix co- morbidity and risk factors by designing a surveillance program to capture incidence of cancer of the cervix and the prognosis.

The project will utilize epidemiological study design for different objectives. Mostly, cross sectional and cohort study designs will be employed to determine the magnitude of co-morbidity and incidence of cervical cancer as well as the risk factors and prognosis among patients with co-morbidity condition. CUHAS expects that findings from community research projects will inform the community, government leaders and officers at district, regional, and national levels on how to reduce this dual burden and facilitate resource mobilization at all levels.


This project aims to support and implement the field activities for 6 post-graduate medical students and 24 medical doctor students for three years. These students will provide health education on symptoms, risk factors and available services among women, the elderly population and village health workers. They will also work to improve health-seeking behavior among the aged while providing cervical cancer screening and treatment to all women and empowering village health workers to act as continuing agents of change.

They will train volunteer health workers and focus on community engagement activities to teach health education. The students will also work to design a surveillance program to capture the incidence and prognosis of cancer among PLHIV and the elderly at the community level. The activities of the project will be monitored and evaluated to track progress.


  • CBOs/NGOs
  • Shinyanga Regional Hospital
  • Oncology Unit & Pathology laboratory – Bugando Medical Center
  • HIV/AIDS Unit – Bugando Medical Center