Amigas: An Effective Intervention to Increase Cervical Cancer Screening Among Hispanic Women

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanic women had the highest incidence of cervical cancer and are more likely to die form the disease when compared to non-Hispanic white women. Cervical Cancer is a preventable disease. Currently, screening recommendations include the use of the Pap test alone or in combination with the human papillomavirus (HPV) test.

 American Cancer Society (ACS) also states cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Primary prevention of HPV infection is available through vaccination. In the US, there are three vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of the most common cancer-causing HPV infection.  Cervical cancer can also be prevented through the removal of precancerous lesions detected via screening. Women in Mexico and Central and South America experience approximately triple the cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates of women in the US, largely due to higher prevalence of HPV infection and less access to screening in those countries.

The ACS Society recommends that for women at average risk, screening should begin at age 21 and continue at regular intervals through at least age 65. Women who are at high risk for cervical cancer, such as those with HIV infection, an organ transplant, or exposure to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), may require more frequent screening. It is important to realize that women who receive the HPV vaccine should still follow recommended screening guidelines because the vaccines do not protect against all types of cancer-causing HPV.

While Hispanic women have historically been less likely to participate in cervical cancer screening compared to non-Hispanic white women, rates have improved in recent decades. However, the prevalence of Pap testing among uninsured Hispanic women is higher than among uninsured non-Hispanic white women; evidence suggests that lower-income minorities may be more adept at accessing safety net and subsidized programs than non-Hispanic Whites (ACS, Cancer & Figures)

CDC has created the AMIGAS intervention program and it stand for, "Ayudando a Las Mujeres con Informacion, Guia y Amor para su Salud." In English, it stand for, " Helping Women with information, Guidance, and Love for Their Health." The program was created to help community health educator increase cervical cancer screening among Hispanic women.

I am sure in some point in your life you have come across a very traditional Latina women who don't believe in getting a papsmear done or avoid it because it hurts or have a spouse who do not give permission for their wives to be examined. The role of AMIGAS is to break down those barriers by providing education at the forefront of our communities to understand the risk of cervical cancer.

Join CDC in creating the awareness and linking communities to the resources available. 

Education and Knowledge is the Key to Prevention. 

When cervical Cancer is found early, it is highly treatable. 

Remember, if you don't have insurance and you live in California, you may qualify for the Every Women Counts program which can cover your annual pap test exam. Ask you local community clinic if they provide the EWC application and enrollment. 

Recuerde, si no tiene seguranza medico y vive en California, puede ser elegible para el program de Cada Mujer Cuenta, que puede cubrir su examen annual de Papanicolaou. Preguntele a la clinica comunitaria local si ellos proporcionan la solicitud EWC y la inscripcion.


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