¡Acábalo Ya! Working Together to End Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and Viva la Feminista is joining in on the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health's blog carnival! VIVA!

Si, viva! Because I want my Latinas hermanas to live long and healthy lives.NLIRH is asking bloggers to consider the following question:

“What will it take to end cervical cancer?”

NLIRH states that "every year in the United States alone, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed and more than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer, a disease that is 100% preventable. A disproportionate number of those who suffer from this deadly disease are Latinas." A big reason why Latinas are disproportionately impacted is our lack of access to healthcare.

We may have trouble getting to a doctor for a pap smear because we lack health insurance. We may lack health insurance because we are in a lot of low-paying jobs. We may lack health insurance because we work in sectors like service (restaurants, hotels, etc) where even if we bring home enough money to live on, health insurance isn't offered. And of course, we may not be documented and thus not in a position to obtain health insurance. Not having health insurance may then bump us into having to rely on public health services, which in some parts of the country (ahem, Arizona) may mean risking revealing our lack of documentation.

In a world where cervical cancer should be preventable via the HPV vaccine or detected at an early stage via Pap smears, the fact that so many women, Latinas or not, die from it is unjust.

But I think it's more than just lack of access.

Cervical cancer is linked to sexual activity. And that puts a lot of cases in the STD pile and we all know what that means...STIGMA! BLAME! SHAME! We need to come to grips with the fact that women, even younger women, teenagers, are sexual beings. Shame should never kill anyone. That's why I so detested the decision to ignore the FDA on teens' access to the morning after pill. Yes, I know it was a political decision, but I think it was one made easier because teens + sex = squirmy public.

So that's what I think? What about you?