Every year from September 15th through October 15th, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month. During this time, America honors the cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans. At Cervivor, we celebrate the lives of the amazing Latinas who are part of our Cervivor family, whether they are survivors, volunteers, friends or caregivers. It’s so important to take time during this celebration to educate women about HPV and cervical cancer because Latinas have the highest rates of cervical cancer out of all groups of women, and they have the second highest mortality rate after African American women.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health cites lack of screening along with screening accessibility barriers as the main causes of higher incidence rates. Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, executive director for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive health, says, “It’s not that the sexual behavior is any different. They’re just not getting the care they need in a timely manner.”
HPV, the virus that causes virtually all cervical cancers, affects around 70% of Americans. But with regular screening and medical care, cervical cancer can be prevented! Six out of 10 cervical cancer diagnoses occur in women who have never had a Pap smear, or who have not had a Pap smear in the last 5 years.
Patti Murillo-Casa was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November 2008, after she had gone 3 years without having a Pap smear. After her diagnosis, she was scared, ashamed and worried about what her husband might think. “That’s the myth and stigma the disease has,” Murillo-Casa says. “This disease isn’t because you’re promiscuous. If you’re sexually active, you’re going to get the virus. You have to go to the doctor. I tell women they don’t have to go through what I went through.” Patti now works hard as part of Cervivor to help educate and raise awareness in Latina communities.
Cervivor, along with partners such as the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, is continuing to fight against the stigma of HPV and encourage women to get screened regularly. The more information Latina communities have about HPV and cervical cancer, the faster we can erase the stigma around HPV, increase the rate of screening and decrease the incidence rate of cervical cancer. Working together, we can fight to increase accessibility to health care for all women, and break down the barriers that prevent women from getting the care they need.
Help raise awareness about how HPV and cervical cancer affect Latina women.
- Share this story.
- Visit the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health at www.latinainstitute.org.
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get screened and understand your risk for HPV and cervical cancer.
- And join Cervivor to stay connected and learn more about how to end this preventable disease.