April 5, 2022
Cervical cancer often strikes women in the primes of their lives, often while they are busy building a career, raising children and making valuable contributions to their communities. However, cervical cancer is preventable through vaccination against cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), periodic cervical screenings, and if necessary, treatment of cervical lesions before they can develop into cancer. If girls and women can access these interventions, we can end cervical cancer as a threat to women’s health.
The state of Alabama bears the highest cervical cancer death rate in the United States. The incidence rate of cervical cancer in the state reached 9.4 per 100,000 women, compared to the national rate of 7.0 per 100,000. Mortality rates track nearly 50% higher than the rest of the country, at 3.5 deaths per 100,000. Alabama’s HPV vaccination rates and cervical cancer screenings are on the decline, putting thousands of lives at unnecessary risk. Women of color bear an especially high risk of a cervical cancer diagnosis.
We at TogetHER for Health are pleased to announce our participation in Operation Wipe Out, an initiative aimed at raising awareness about HPV and cervical cancer prevention in the state. The project will launch in Chambers County, Alabama. Chambers County was chosen as a priority due to its high rate of cervical cancer disease in the state. Over time, the project plans to expand to additional counties across the state.
This initiative brings together The Rotary Club of Birmingham, The Rotary Club of Lafayette, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, Auburn University School of Nursing, TogetHER for Health, Quality of Life Health Services, and the Alabama Department of Public Health. These organizations and concerned citizens have come together to end cervical cancer as a public health problem in Alabama by building awareness of HPV and cervical cancer, engaging communities, and bolstering access to cervical cancer prevention.
Operation Wipe Out is set to roll out this spring with educational events and cervical cancer screening opportunities. We will be participating in the annual LaFayette Day on April 9th in LaFayette Town Square, inviting women to join us for an opportunity to learn more about cervical cancer in Chambers County and how they can be a part of prevention efforts. This educational event is set to take place on April 30th – women are invited to learn and sign up for cervical screenings with the local health department. Our collective goal is to make Alabama a champion – and ultimately a model – for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem for both the nation and the world.
For more information on Operation Wipe Out and how you can support this initiative, see this helpful brochure, or contact Dr. Heather White at TogetHER for Health at [email protected] or Dr. Isabel Scarinci at the University of Alabama at [email protected].