The next Sub Saharan African epidemic? A case study of the determinants of cervical cancer knowledge and screening in Kenya
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Early cervical cancer screening has been shown to be beneficial in reducing cervical cancer related deaths. Despite the benefits of early cervical cancer screening, uptake remains limited, with wide disparities in access and uptake in most developing countries. As part of a larger study, this paper uses a socio-ecological framework to explain the determinants of cervical cancer knowledge and screening among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in Kenya. We conducted a multilevel analysis of cervical cancer knowledge (n = 11,138) and screening (n = 10,333) using the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS). Results show regional disparities in cancer knowledge and the utilization of cervical cancer screening services; regions with high wealth inequality (OR = 0.70, 95% CI [0.56-0.87]) emerged as vulnerable regions where women were less likely to screen for cervical cancer. Gender equity, health insurance coverage and education level significantly predicted cervical cancer screening rates. Results further revealed regional as well as rural-urban wealth inequalities in cervical cancer screening. We argue that given that Kenyan women are highly exposed to human papilloma virus (HPV) due to the legacy of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country, cervical cancer may be the next epidemic if integrated measures are not adopted to increase cervical cancer knowledge and overcome the barriers to utilizing early screening services. The paper concludes with policy recommendations and directions for future research.
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