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South African women’s lives in danger because of hospital shortages

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Summary of story from health-e, September 15, 2011

South African women in the early stages of cervical cancer are having their lives placed in danger by hospital staff shortages.

Some patients in the province of KwaZulu-Natal have reportedly been told that they face year long waits before having their cervix examined.

Gladys Nzimande is 34-years-old and HIV positive. The cancer is known to spread faster in women with HIV but she has been told that the next available appointment is in August 2012.

KwaZulu-Natal health department spokesperson Chris Maxon disputed the claims on long waiting lists and denied that patients were having to wait for appointments until 2012.

Cervical cancer is mostly caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and grows relatively slowly and can be completely eradicated if identified and treated early.

Every year, almost 6000 South African women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than half die from the disease.

Over one in five South African women harbour HPV, which causes two thirds of invasive cervical cancers.

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