‘I didn’t know anyone else who had abnormal cervical cells’

World Cancer Day raises awareness of cancer detection, treatment and prevention. During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2020, which took place in January, reports indicated the target for women aged 25-49 who attended screening in England is around 10% lower than the government’s 80% target.

Public Health England (PHE) launched the first ever national cervical screening campaign, ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, in March 2019 after the number of women attending screening reached a 20-year low. The campaign focussed on eligible women under age 35, south Asian, black, and lesbian, bisexual women and those from poor backgrounds.

While cervical screening is not test for cancer, it helps prevent cancer by detecting the health of the cervix – the opening to the womb from the vagina; but there is still a mixture of fear and nonchalance towards the test, which became an NHS screening programme in 1988.

I spoke to Isha Webber, 30, from Woolwich in South London about her experience of  finding abnormal cells in her cervix and how it turned her into a gynaecological advocate, while studying for a family law qualification.

My first cervical screening test came back normal, so I was fine with the process…
I didn’t get a reminder letter but was at my doctors in June 2018 for a check-up because I was on antidepressants. While taking my blood pressure the nurse said, “Oh, the system says you’re due for a cervical screening test”, so I booked one for July.

Continue reading ‘I didn’t know anyone else who had abnormal cervical cells’

Young people highlight urgency of organ donation among London’s Black community

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is funding ethnic minority community projects in an urgent bid to raise awareness about organ donation.

‘Organ Donation: A Conversation Young Black People NEED to Have’ taking place on May 18th is one of many NHSBT-funded events across the country to dispel myths around organ donation among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Continue reading Young people highlight urgency of organ donation among London’s Black community

Organisations in England given funding to encourage organ donation in the Black Community

Organisations in Londonand Manchester received funding from the Community Investment Scheme to increase organ donation among ethnic minority communities.

The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), One World Foundation, Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) Greater Manchester and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust’s Kidney Patients Association are launching projects that will run until the summer. All applied for a share of the £140,000 funding pot of this Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant and supported by the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA).

Representatives from organisations involved in the
Community Investment Scheme
Credit: NHSBT

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price, said: “If you are black or Asian, you will wait on average half a year longer for a matching donor than if you are white. Those six months could be a matter of life or death. We must address this by empowering communities to own the conversation around organ donation. Giving the gift of an organ is a deeply personal decision and I hope that the projects funded through this scheme will help people to make an informed choice.”

Continue reading Organisations in England given funding to encourage organ donation in the Black Community

#SmearForSmear selfie campaign for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

It’s cervical cancer prevention week and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is raising awareness with the #SmearForSmear 2019 campaign. To get involved all you have to do is post a #SmearForSmear selfie smearing your lipstick. I know it’s a beauty fax pas you would never dream of doing intentionally, but your selfie with tip or word of support encouraging women to go for cervical screening (also known as a smear test), could actually save a life!

Credit: Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Cervical screening is free but is not a test for cancer. It identifies cell changes (abnormalities) on your cervix (the entrance to the womb) caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). These abnormal cells can be removed, helping to prevent cancer. For those old enough to remember, Big Brother / reality TV star Jade Goody sadly died from cervical cancer 10 years ago on 22 March 2009, aged 27. Her death coined the term, the ‘Jade Goody effect’ when screening rates increased following her death. According to reports, the number of  women aged 25 to 49 in England who went for screening  increased from 69.3% in March 2008 to 72.5% in March 2009.

Flash forward a few years and NHS Digital say the number of eligible women (aged 25-64) going for cervical screening in England has fallen for the fourth year running. Public Health England (PHE) also say that women from ethnic minority groups and women between ages 25-29 are ‘frequent non-attenders’ of screening; but you can help change all this.

It’s not always easy finding complimentary lipstick shades for darker skin tones, but over the past couple of years ranges have expanded.

Continue reading #SmearForSmear selfie campaign for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Coronation Street dramatize HIV in Kenya

Before I start, let me just say that I am not nor ever will be a fan of Coronation Street! I am an Eastenders fan all the way! The Mitchells, the Brannings, Ian Beale, Kim, Denise, Janine, Kat and Alfie…… I love them all :-). I also love that, even though they have washing machines everyone still visits the Laundrette to do their washing! Anyway, let me not digress (especially for those of you who are unfortunately not Eastenders fans).

So I finally managed to catch up with ‘Corrie goes to Kenya’. Cast members from the soap went to the rural town, Bangladesh (estimated population 20,000) in Kenya to participate in a drama series with Kenyan actors to educate locals and try to break down the social stigma surrounding HIV in Kenya. This was made possible by a charity called S.A.F.E, founded by British actor Nick Reding in 2001.

According to the program, this rural town has no running water and around 10% of the residents have HIV. What struck me most was the immense stigma that hangs over those who are infected. During the program anecdotal tales of young infected children being beaten up and scared to play outside, men and women not even telling their husbands/wives they are infected as well as rape are all used as avenues for the disease to spread. I think the stigma is worse for women than for men, either way it’s still there. One of the local ambassadors for S.A.F.E was able to gradually tell the rest of his community about his HIV+ status and seemed to have been accepted. Watching the program made me think of how, in the UK we can take public health messages and the NHS for granted. Most HIV clinics in Kenya are charity, not government funded. It is difficult to get life-saving health education to rural communities in Kenya for obvious reasons; but it’s through education that people will be empowered.

Despite the best efforts around the world, the HIV vaccine still manages to slip through the fingers of medical science, primarily because there are many variations of the HIV virus and it is able to enter cells in the body and combine with normal human cell DNA making it difficult for the human immune system to attack and kill the virus. The virus is able to multiply undetected by the immune system and when ready, goes on to destroy the very cells that we use to fight infections.

Many wonder when there will ever be an effective HIV vaccine, Dr Robert Gallo, one of the scientists who discovered HIV in the 80’s responded, ‘Anybody who gives you an answer to that is telling you fantasies, deliberately or unconsciously’. So prevention, through education and empowerment is definitely better than cure; especially as there is no ‘cure’ at the moment.

doubleaad : AdelinA