How sexual assault survivors can feel in control during cervical screenings

ABC Life By Kellie Scott / 12th August 2020
Kate* avoids cervical screenings.The 34-year-old from Sydney is a survivor of sexual assault and finds the physical examination re-traumatising.

Kate’s experience is not unique.

One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. And research shows those who have experienced sexual abuse, either as adults or children, are less likely to attend regular cervical screening.

A simple way to promote HPV vaccination among Asian American women: Storytelling

The Conversation, March 4, 2020 10.58pm AEDT

Why do so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander women know so little about HPV? We set out to answer this question by interviewing  ethnic groups and conducting surveys.

Our findings suggest their knowledge and attitudes toward HPV prevention are closely tied to health beliefs and cultural or language barriers. What’s more, we discovered preventive health care is not a top priority for immigrant populations. In general, they seek treatment only when already sick. Our studies also suggest many of them are skeptical about participating in research.

We discovered in our study that narrative storytelling – that is, mothers and their children sharing their experiences and having conversations about HPV vaccination – can increase HPV vaccination rates.

From that, we’ve developed what we call a storytelling intervention for young Korean American women using a “peer-paired” approach. Because the storytellers are about the same age as the participants, a meaningful conversation is more likely to occur. The women are less shy about sharing their personal experiences, feelings and fears.

Public Cervix Announcement campaign

Thorne Harbour Health, September 2019

Cancer Council Victoria, November 2019

As more research reveals concerning health outcomes for lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) identified women, it is encouraging that there is a shift in focus towards improving health for LBQ women from both mainstream and LGBTIQ health organisations. As part of Women’s Health Week (September 2 – 6) we thought we’d take you through one of our campaigns which was created to raise awareness around cervical screening.

The reasons why these groups don’t screen as often as they should include people thinking they don’t need to screen, feeling embarrassed or frightened and fearing homophobia or transphobia. The fact is, all LGBTIQ people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 74, need cervical screening every five years to reduce their risk of cervical cancer, no matter who they have had as a sexual partner.

Working with Cancer Council Victoria, Thorne Harbour Health created the ‘Public Cervix Announcement’ campaign. This campaign was created to raise awareness around cervical cancer and debunk some of the myths around who should be screened.

PCA postcard

 

 

 

Report: 6th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), 2019

The Secondary Students and Adolescent Sexual Health survey is a national study exploring the sexual health and well-being of Australian adolescents. The anonymous survey asks questions about knowledge, behaviour and educational experiences related to sexual health and well-being.

The Commonwealth Department of Health funded study has been conducted approximately every 5 years since 1992. This is the 6th time the survey has been conducted in Australia. Results play a vital role in safeguarding the nation’s health by informing the national strategies to prevent HIV, sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses as well as providing valuable information to improve service provision and education across multiple sectors.

Analysis of cervical cancer and abnormality outcomes in an era of cervical screening and HPV vaccination in Australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Release Date: 

This is the third report from an Australian-first project, combining screening, cancer, death, and HPV vaccination data to demonstrate the effects of screening and HPV vaccination on cervical cancer, precancerous abnormalities and cervical screening behaviour.

Screen-detected cervical cancers were less likely to cause death than those diagnosed in never-screened women, and HPV-vaccinated women were more likely to participate in cervical screening, and less likely to have a high-grade abnormality.

 

A community perspective: On Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancer among women and, trans and gender diverse people

Positive Life NSW & Femfatales, April 2019

Authors: Liz Sutherland, Lance Feeney, Katya Samodurov

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus which can be passed through skin to skin contact during sexual activity. Evidence to date shows that women living with HIV are 3 to 6 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than the general female population. They are also at greater risk of developing anal, vaginal, oropharyngeal and vulvar cancers.

There are other groups who may have a higher but preventable risk because they are often left out of the conversation about HPV and related cancers. Trans men are less likely to be up-todate with Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. Furthermore, several studies have highlighted that trans and gender diverse people, and lesbian and bisexual cis-gendered women are often disregarded as not being at risk.

Positive Life and Femfatales developed a cross-sectional study to:

• Assess awareness and knowledge of HPV infection and risk for 4 HPV-related cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal) among women and, trans and gender diverse people in Australia;

• Assess the knowledge gaps to inform the development and implementation of population-specific educational resources to increase community and healthcare professional awareness of HPV and related cancers;

• Assist with the prevention of morbidity and mortality by increasing screening, early detection and treatment of HPV-related cancers, and;

• Assess rates of HPV vaccination in women and, trans and gender diverse people

KEY FINDINGS:

1. The results from this survey highlighted a lack of awareness of risk, prevention,
symptoms, and early detection of HPV-related vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers.

2. Approximately 28% of HIV-positive respondents were unaware that a vaccination
against HPV exists and 71% of HIV-positive respondents had not been vaccinated
against HPV.

3. Over half (60%) of HIV-positive respondents believe their risk of anal cancer was either‘about the same’, ‘lower’, or ‘much lower’ than the general female population’s risk.

4. While all HIV-positive respondents had screened for cervical cancer at some point in
their lives, 91.7% had never had an anal examination for anal cancer.

5. Among HIV-positive and HIV-negative but immunocompromised respondents who had undergone staging or treatment for either cervical, vaginal, or vulvar cancer, none had ever screened for anal cancer.

6. Of the HIV-positive respondents who do not receive screening reminder notifications, none were aware of the new 3 yearly National Cervical Screening Guidelines and changes.

7. Qualitative responses indicated that respondents generally preferred having clinician-initiated conversations with female doctors or nurses who were non-judgemental, non-dismissive, clear, and made them feel comfortable.

8. In an open-ended short-answer question, more than 25% of qualitative respondents felt that more awareness and normalising talking about HPV in the public realm would help increase their chance of detecting HPV-related cancer early.