New directory helps connect low-income women to cervical cancer services in North Carolina
The NC Cervical Cancer Resource Directory (www.ccresourcedirectory.org) includes county-specific information on where uninsured or underinsured women can go to find screening, or Pap test, services. The site also has information on HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination, answers to frequently asked questions and additional resources.
The directory – available in both English and Spanish – was developed by Cervical Cancer-Free NC, an initiative based at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program is working to eliminate or substantially reduce cervical cancer in North Carolina.
Each year, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 die from the disease in the United States. In 2011, almost 400 women in North Carolina received cervical cancer diagnoses and more than 100 died. Health-care experts say a majority of these deaths could be avoided through regular cervical cancer screenings, commonly known as Pap tests, and timely HPV vaccination.
Noel Brewer, Ph.D., director of Cervical Cancer-Free NC and associate professor of health behavior at UNC’s public health school, said he knows how important the directory and other resources could be to women throughout the state. His own mother was recently diagnosed with incurable cervical cancer.
“Screening would have caught her cancer early and saved her life, but she could not afford it,” said Brewer, also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Resources like the new directory will help other women find affordable screening and avoid what my mom is going through now. We can end cervical cancer. We have to.”
African-American and Latina women, who are less likely than others to be screened, are twice as likely as white women to die from cervical cancer. Research has shown that one reason for the disparity is that, in North Carolina, African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured.
Connecting women to cervical cancer resources in North Carolina is an important step in reducing unnecessary deaths, according to the Cervical Cancer-Free NC initiative and its collaborators.
“Latinas are a growing component of the healthcare community and they need culturally appropriate information that is available to them in their own language,” said Florence Simán, director of health programs at El Pueblo Inc., a Latino advocacy organization based in Raleigh. “This directory is a great resource for us to use to help connect women who may otherwise not know where to go.”
Schatzi H. McCarthy, associate director of Cervical Cancer-Free NC, said the new resource will go a long way to help clarify access to cervical cancer prevention services in North Carolina. “Navigating through our health-care system can be extremely challenging, especially for those who are uninsured or under-insured. It is not acceptable that women should die for lack of access to services when, in fact, they are available. We want to help match low-income women with needed services. For this reason, we are very proud of the resource directory and believe it will be an invaluable tool for women and adolescents throughout our state.”