New initiative from Black Women’s Health Imperative and Hologic’s Project Health Equality to address racial disparities in cervical cancer with life-saving information and screening access
ATLANTA, GA (June 22, 2021) – The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) and Hologic’s Project Health Equality today announced the launch of Cerving Confidence, a collaboration featuring Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Ciara that encourages Black women to commit to their well-woman exams as a part of self-care and protect themselves against cervical cancer. Cerving Confidence offers life-saving information and screening access to help prevent cervical cancer in Black women, who are disproportionately impacted by it.
“As Black women, we need to commit to total self-care, and one of the ways we can do that is by taking care of our health inside and out,” says Ciara. “Through the Cerving Confidence initiative, I want to level up conversations about health and address disparities by giving Black women the inspiration and information they need to get a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer.”
Cerving Confidence means women finding power in taking care of themselves and their cervical health. Building on the idea of “serving” looks, Ciara stars in and narrates a new PSA video inviting Black women to join her in #CervingConfidence in their own lives and telling their girlfriends to do the same. She talks about how cervical cancer has impacted women she knows, how easy it is to get tested – “Roll up. Pull up. Boom, bam, it’s done!” says Ciara – and the world she wants to create for her own daughter.
To participate in #CervingConfidence on social media, women can visit the photobooth on the Cerving Confidence website or search for the hashtag in Instagram Stories’ Giphy integration. Information about how to prepare for an annual well-woman exam, including important questions to ask a doctor about preventing cervical cancer with Pap and HPV testing, also are available. Later this summer, Ciara will host a virtual summit about the importance of self-care and how Black women can protect their own health. Free access to cervical cancer screening also will be given at various healthcare sites across the country.
Worsening racial disparities in cervical cancer
The need for an initiative like Cerving Confidence to reach Black women with life-saving information through a culturally relevant lens is more urgent than ever. Long-time racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities still exist, exacerbating the impact of cervical cancer on Black women. Research shows that Black women in the U.S. are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women,1 and they are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer than any other racial group,2-3 which can lead to worse outcomes. COVID-19 likely has widened these disparities since many women may have postponed their well-woman exams due to the pandemic. In fact, even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, many experts fear the delay in screenings will result in more undiagnosed cancers – including cervical cancers. In a time when cervical cancer can be largely prevented, this is unacceptable.
“Cerving Confidence will help address health disparities for Black women by raising awareness of the importance of preventing cervical cancer and offering access to screenings that can make a difference in protecting them against unnecessary disease,” says Linda Goler Blount, MPH, president and CEO of BWHI. “Too many women are dying needlessly from cervical cancer, and it could simply be prevented with regular screening. Along with Ciara, we encourage Black women to prioritize themselves and their health.”
Improving Black women’s health with screening access
Cerving Confidence is an extension of Project Health Equality, a collaboration that addresses the structural and cultural barriers that prevent Black women in the U.S. from receiving quality healthcare. As a part of Project Health Equality, communities in need are being identified and clinical partners are being selected to provide health screenings, including cervical cancer screening, for women who may otherwise go without.
“Our mission is to protect women’s health, and we do that by providing highly accurate diagnostic testing for various women’s cancers and more,” says Michelle Garsha, Vice President of Women’s Health Diagnostics, Hologic. “Screening with Pap and HPV testing can detect cancer early, when it is easier to treat, and also identify abnormalities before they become cervical cancer, actually preventing disease. And for women in select cities who do not have access, we will provide these critical screenings.”
Understanding cervical cancer and how to screen for it
Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix, which connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus.4 Routine screening with a Pap test alone is recommended for women ages 21-29.5 For women ages 30-65, certain studies show that screening with a Pap test in combination with an HPV test (also known as Pap+HPV Together) is the best way to detect disease.6-7 The Pap test identifies abnormal cervical cells, while the HPV test detects the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). About eight out of 10 women will contract HPV at some point in their lives.8 Most of the time HPV will go away on its own. However, sometimes it stays and develops into cervical cancer.9 When detected early, cervical cancer and pre-cancer are highly treatable, and Black women’s lives can be saved.
About Black Women’s Health Imperative
The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing health equity and social justice for Black women across the lifespan, through policy, advocacy, education, research and leadership development. BWHI identifies the most pressing health issues that affect the nation’s 22 million Black women and girls and invests in the best of the best strategies and organizations that accomplish its goals.
About Hologic’s Project Health Equality
Project Health Equality (PHE) is a multifaceted, multiyear initiative from Hologic, Inc. that uniquely combines research, education and access to address the structural and cultural barriers that prevent Black and Hispanic women from receiving the same quality of health care as white women. The initiative seeks immediate change in how health care is experienced by thousands of Black and Hispanic women in cities across the United States, and involves crucial partners such as BWHI and RAD-AID to drive meaningful, sustainable change for these communities.
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- Beavis AL, Gravitt PE. Hysterectomy-corrected cervical cancer mortality rates reveal a larger racial disparity in the United States. Cancer. 2017;123(6):1044-1050.
- Olusola P, Banerjee HN, Philley JV, Dasgupta S. Human papilloma virus-associated cervical cancer and health disparities. Cells. 2019;8(6):622. doi: 10.3390/cells8060622.
- Arvizo C, Madhi H. Disparities in cervical cancer in African American women: What primary care physicians can do. Clev Clinic J Med. 2017;84(10):788-794
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information about Cervical Cancer. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/index.htm. Accessed June 15, 2021.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Women’s Health Care Physicians. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2021/04/updated-cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines. Released April 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021.
- Kaufman H, et al. Contributions of Liquid-Based (Papanicolaou) Cytology and Human Papillomavirus Testing in Cotesting for Detection of Cervical Cancer and Precancer in the United States. Am J Clin Pathol. 2020:154;4:510-516.
- Austin RM, et al. Enhanced detection of cervical cancer and precancer through use of imaged liquid-based cytology in routine cytology and HPV cotesting. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018;150(5):385-392.
- National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus Magazine. HPV and cervical cancer: What you need to know. https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/article/hpv-and-cervical-cancer-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed June 15, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital HPV Infection – CDC Fact Sheet. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/hpv-Fs-July-2017.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2021.