Increasing cervical screening participation rates among all young women and people with a cervix in NSW is the focus of a new campaign developed by ACON in partnership with the Cancer Institute NSW.
Developed for all people with a cervix regardless of gender, sexuality, cultural background, or ability, the campaign, Own It empowers people to make their Cervical Screening Test their own by choosing how to screen.
In Australia, those aged between 25-35 years engage in the national cervical screening program at a lower rate than some other age groups. Recent data shows that just over half of people with a cervix in this demographic had ever had a Cervical Screening Test. More than 70 per cent of cervical cancers occur in people who have never been screened or aren’t up-to-date with their screening.
Unlike the previous test, the new Cervical Screening Test detects human papillomavirus (HPV). If HPV is found, the test looks for abnormal cells which can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing. In addition, there is now an option to self-collect a sample for testing – a game changer for those who have never screened, are due or overdue for a test.
“Own It is about raising awareness of the options available to make the Cervical Screening Test easier for all people with a cervix,” said ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price. “We know that barriers exist for young people. These barriers are often compounded with discrimination, fear, misinformation, or trauma when it comes to cervical screening. This campaign really encourages people to take control over the experience, think about the options to make the test easier – and ‘own’ the experience.”
Barriers to testing can include negative past experiences, history of sexual violence, cultural issues, disability, and lack of awareness. LGBTQ+ people can face additional unique barriers such as fear and experience of discrimination, heteronormative assumptions in medical settings and feelings of gender dysphoria.
“The campaign is based on the experiences of real people who have overcome barriers to cervical screening by choosing how their cervical screening test is done,” Price said. “The campaign promotes support and choices including using the self-collection swab, bringing a friend or support person, inserting the speculum themselves, finding a doctor they could trust, talking to friends and family, and educating themselves to address misinformation.”
Own It is the latest in ACON’s suite of cancer awareness initiatives developed with the support of the Cancer Institute NSW, and produced under the cancer prevention resource, CAN WE.
“With regular screening, cervical cancer is now one of the most preventable cancers,” said Cancer Institute’s Acting Chief Executive Sarah McGill. “Last year, cervical cancer took the lives of more than 200 people in Australia so I encourage anyone with a cervix to check if they’re up-to-date with their screening and talk to their GP or health care provider about their options, including self-collection.”
This inclusive campaign showcases the diversity of people in NSW who need to hear a message about preventing cervical cancer by getting a test. The campaign includes a diverse range of people in NSW including First Nations people, people with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and migrant experiences, and trans and gender diverse community members.
Own It will loom large in NSW, being featured on the back of buses, outdoor, posters, print, digital, social media and radio. The campaign aims to reach as many young people with a cervix as possible in NSW.
Price added: “ACON commends the Cancer Institute NSW for their continued partnership. This campaign is evidence based, and highlights choice in an important area of health care. We are united in our goal to raise awareness of all types of cancer prevention and screening options and we thank the many community members for their ongoing support in developing Own It and our other CAN WE campaigns.”
Anyone with a cervix aged between 25 and 74 who has ever been sexually active is recommended to have a Cervical Screening Test every five years.
For more information about Own It and cervical screening, visit canwe.org.au.
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
E: [email protected] T: (02) 9206 2044 M: 0428 477 042