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Archive for the ‘cervical cancer’ Category

Guest post by Amelia “Amy” MacIntyre, Health Research & Policy Analyst, North American Management

The uninsured, the underinsured and those living in underserved communities in which health care services are scarce are the segments of the U.S. population that are disproportionately affected by cervical cancer.  These populations include women in rural areas, the elderly, those with less formal education, and women of color.  For example, the mortality rate for African-American and Vietnamese women continues to be twice as high as for white women – and about 50 percent higher for Latinas.  Meanwhile, in rural communities, uninsured white women have some of the poorest access to routine screening of any patient population.  Thus, cervical cancer incidence rates vividly demonstrate inequities in our health care systems and outcomes.

Community health centers supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) address this disparity by providing preventive health services – including Pap tests and HPV vaccinations – to any woman, regardless of insurance status and/or ability to pay. As such, health centers play a vital role in redressing health disparities and delivering care to groups excluded in the health care system, such as immigrants. (more…)

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This week, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is hosting a blog carnival, where we bring you posts from the blogosphere that help us answer,  “what will it take to end cervical cancer?”

As you know from our work on cervical cancer, Latinas continue to suffer from the highest rates of cervical cancer among women of all ethnic and racial groups. As we work to educate Latinas about how to take action to prevent cervical cancer in their own lives, NLIRH will continue to fight to bring down the barriers Latinas face in accessing the routine gynecological care necessary to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease.
Here is a round-up of what we have so far:

Why cervical cancer is a LGBT issue by Verónica Bayetti-Flores, Policy Research Specialist, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Trans Men and Genderqueer/Gender Nonconforming People by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Screen more women for cervical cancer – not the same women more often! by Kate Ryan, Program Coordinator, National Women’s Health Network.

Thank YOU Affordable Care Act for helping cervixes stay healthy by Keely Monroe, Program Coordinator,  National Women’s Health Network

Please stay tuned this week for more posts! 

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The National Center for Transgender Equality has put up a blog for Cervical Health month, recognizing the importance of this issue for trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people:

Anyone with a cervix can contract cervical cancer, so this means that lots of trans men and genderqueer/gender nonconforming people are at risk. But because trans people face widespread discrimination from health care providers and insurance plans, they often avoid seeking or cannot access preventive care.

The post lists ways to prevent cervical cancer among trans men and gender non-conforming people, including tips to keep your own cervix healthy and advocacy items to ensure access to care. Check it out!

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When talking about bringing the number of cervical cancer deaths to zero, it is crucial not to forget about LGBTQ people’s distinct experiences accessing health care. We know cervical cancer is completely preventable, and that regular pap smears are designed to catch any changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer later on. Just as with many other Latinas, however, preventing cervical cancer for LGBTQ Latin@s becomes a matter of access – to affordable exams, to providers who are culturally competent, and to providers who are trained to deal with LGBTQ patients. Unfortunately, for many LGBTQ Latin@s, affordable preventive care with properly trained clinicians is simply not accessible.

One of the most pressing issues for LGBTQ access to care is discrimination and bias. Homophobia at the doctor’s office is unfortunately common, and a great detractor to queer women seeking care. This then affects access to preventive care – women who have sex with women are at risk for cervical cancer, and research suggests that queer women who report positive attitudes about their providers are more likely to have had a recent pap. Transphobia is also a concern, and especially for highly gendered health services such as Pap smears, a huge barrier to access. In fact, in a recent survey about the experiences of transgender people with discrimination, nearly a quarter of trans Latin@s reported having been denied medical services due to their gender identity, and 36% reported delaying needed medicals services for fear of bias.

Discrimination at the doctor’s office is only part of the problem, however. While person-to-person discrimination is an issue, the systematic oppression and marginalization of LGBTQ communities plays a role in LGBTQ Latin@s’ ability to afford care, research and knowledge about LGBTQ health, and clinicians’ training on treating LGBTQ patients. Existing research suggests that LGBTQ communities are disproportionately poor, and the Latin@ respondents of the Transgender Discrimination Survey reported high rates of both unemployment and harassment at work due to gender identity. This means that health care is often out of reach for these communities, especially non-emergency and preventive care such as Pap smears. But even if LGBTQ people are able to afford care, most physicians are woefully unprepared to treat LGBTQ patients due to a lack of training on relevant issues.

We are seeing progress, however. Reproductive justice activism is incorporating the needs of LGBTQ communities, and the LGBTQ advocates are beginning to consider reproductive rights issues as ones that are relevant to their base. Every day we are seeing research on LGBTQ health grow. And last November, in a historic move, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement urging their members to be prepared to treat transgender patients. It’s a long road ahead, but as long as we don’t forget our LGBTQ herman@s in the fight to bring down cervical cancer deaths to zero, we are moving forward.

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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: please join NLIRH by participating in our blog carnival!

¡Acábalo Ya! Working Together to End Cervical Cancer. This is one fight we can win.

Every year in the United States alone, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed and more than 4,000  die of cervical cancer, a disease that is 100% preventable. A disproportionate number of those who suffer from this deadly disease are Latinas and other women of color. This is unjust and unacceptable. We believe the number of deaths from cervical cancer should be zero, and we invite you to join us in making this a reality.

Starting next week on January 9th, we will be hosting a blog carnival, “¡Acábalo Ya! Working Together to End Cervical Cancer.” This effort is aimed at educating Latinas about this disease and how to protect our health, raising the profile of cervical cancer prevention as a national reproductive justice and women’s health priority, and advocating for greater access to the tools and care needed to prevent, detect, and eventually end cervical cancer.

We hope you will be able to join us!

What can you do? Write a post on your blog (or a guest post on ours) that answers the question: “What will it take to end cervical cancer?” Examples of topics include: combating barriers to prevention, diagnosis and treatment; the unique challenges faced by women of color, immigrants, queer women, and transgender men in accessing the care they need; the HPV vaccine; HPV stigma; and the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act on reducing cervical cancer incidence and death. Need more ideas? Contact us and we’ll provide resources and info.

How? Email Natalie D. Camastra, Policy Fellow, at natalie@latinainstitute.org with the link to your blog post. If your organization does not have its own blog, please contact Natalie via email or at (202) 621-1434 and we will work with you to get your contribution posted.

When? Blog posts will be accepted and links posted from January 9-13. The earlier you can submit, the better!

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According to the New York Times, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices  (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a set of recommendations for administering the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to boys and men. These recommendations will have a wide impact, as both private health insurance companies and Medicaid usually follow suit and offer vaccines as a result of this panel’s recommendations.

The recommendation is that boys ages 11 and 12 should receive vaccine, which was first approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration in June 2006 to protect against 4 strains of HPV.  Additionally, the vaccine has been recommended to males aged 13 to 21 who have not received the full three-part vaccine as well as boys as young as 9 and men between 22 and 26.

This is great news as early vaccination is critical to securing the HPV vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing cancers for both men and women.

Why is early vaccination key?

HPV, which is spread through skin-to-skin contact, particularly during sexual contact,  is widespread, easy to contract and can lead to a very serious cancer diagnosis. There are no cures or treatments for HPV, and often no symptoms, which increases one’s likelihood of spreading the virus.  Also, we know that while most high school freshman have not become sexually active, by the time they graduate 7 in 10 and 44% of Latinas will have had sexual intercourse.  Therefore, getting vaccinated before beginning sexual activity is absolutely vital.

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“Statistically significant”

“Accurate denominator”

“Barrier vs. non-barrier population”

This is what I heard as I sat in a gloomy conference room today during an agency committee meeting about who classifies as a medically underserved population and where health professional shortages exist.

The committee’s job is to build a model that the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) will use to allocate money to populations that lack medical services.

I was at these same meetings in November and realized that the deliberations lacked the human stories needed to make an accurate model. We know that certain elements have the biggest impacts on underservice such as race, ethnicity, culture, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. So we joined forces with other organizations including the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the National Immigration Law Center to express our concerns.

With these organizations, we submitted written comments to the committee and then I gave public testimony today about these issues. I know that by opening up this conversation, giving strong examples of the problems, and offering solutions we have made an impact in that committee’s focus. They asked us to remain a resource for their future efforts and several committee members thanked me for our participation and expressed that they have tried to elevate these concerns but that it has been difficult. These issues are not easy to raise. They make finding a clean model very difficult. But they are critical in designing a model that is effective at figuring out who really is underserved. I hope, and believe, that our work on this issue has elevated underserved voices and will make a difference in the committee’s deliberations.

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