By Jessica Bralish
Special to The PREVIEW
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the state health department encourages women ages 21-74 across Colorado to start the year by talking with their health care providers about scheduling a Pap test. A Pap test is the first line of defense against cervical cancer. When cervical cancer is found early, more than 92 percent of women had a five-year survival.
“Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to remind women that these tests could be the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Daniel Shodell, department interim chief medical officer. “Women’s Wellness Connection offers free screenings. We can help women stay safe from cancer, even if they have not been able to afford these tests before.”
Every year in the United States, approximately 13,170 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,250 women die of the disease. African American women and Latinas have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer and African American women have a higher cervical cancer death rate. The department acknowledges that social, economic and environmental inequities result in adverse health outcomes and have a greater impact than individual choices. Reducing health disparities through systems change can help improve opportunities for all Coloradans.
The Women’s Wellness Connection offers free cervical cancer screenings and any necessary follow-up testing to Colorado women. The program offers free cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to women ages 21 through 64 who have little or no health insurance and meet income requirements. To be eligible for the Women’s Wellness Connection, the women must earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level and have no health insurance or have health insurance with high deductibles or co-pays.
About Women’s Wellness Connection
Women’s Wellness Connection provides free, confidential breast and cervical cancer screenings — clinical breast exams, Pap tests and mammograms — to eligible women at more than 100 sites through cooperative efforts with multiple statewide providers.
The Women’s Wellness Connection has served Colorado’s low-income, uninsured women for over 25 years, with one-third (34 percent) of its almost $6.3 million budget coming from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on where to find a provider, go to womenswellnessconnection.org or call (866) 951-WELL (9355). Women’s Wellness Connection’s statewide hotline number, (866) 951-WELL (9355), is made possible through an in-kind donation from the American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society staff members operate the hotline to answer questions, provide additional information about the program and help women make appointments with local Women’s Wellness Connection providers.
By Jessica Bralish