Start the year by making a commitment to supporting women’s health. Join the National Cervical Cancer Coalition in observing Cervical Health Awareness Month. Cervical health continues to be an important priority for women long after menopause. Help spread the word about this important health issue.
- Raise awareness about the importance of cervical health through your various social media feeds. Come up with posts and Tweets that are relevant to your followers or start with these ready-made Tweets from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
- Participate in local health fairs this month and spread the word about the need for many post-menopausal women to continue receiving pelvic exams and Pap tests. Be sure to have plenty of agency collateral on hand. Current guidelines recommend that women continue receiving regular pelvic exams and Pap tests through age 65, as long as they have three negative tests within the past 10 years. However, Pap tests should continue to be used to diagnose symptoms or problems as needed. It also is important for older women to continue discussing pelvic health with their doctors, including the addition of sexual partners. Older women who have not received a Pap test in many years may benefit from an exam. Medicare fully covers the cost of a Pap test/pelvic exam once every 24 months for all covered women and once every 12 months for those at high risk.
- Bring your local health care partners together and sponsor a women’s forum presentation series. Visit four different church, civic or support groups and offer a 90-minute presentation about women’s health issues, including cervical and breast health, screening and cancer. Take the opportunity afterward to talk about the respite care your agency provides in the home.
- Add information about HPV and cervical cancer to your agency’s newsletter. TAG Partners offers ready-made newsletters to get you started.
- Did you know that older women in minority populations are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer? African American women age 65 and older are more than twice as likely to have cervical cancer or die from cervical cancer. Hispanic women in this age group have an incidence rate nearly twice as high as white women. Reach out to your community’s Hispanic and African American communities at local community and church groups to spread this important health message.
- Smoking isn’t only responsible for cases of lung cancer — it’s a factor for developing cervical cancer as well. Studies show that smokers are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than non-smokers. Distribute information to local senior centers about the effects of smoking on women and of the harms of smoking, including education about the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke. Start at the websites for Smokefree Women and the National Cancer Institute.