January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January 31, 2019

At the Arab-American Family Support Center, one of our priority areas is promoting community health and well-being. We offer healthcare services to immigrant, refugee, and marginalized communities through our culturally and linguistically, trauma-informed work. Key to long-term success, all of our direct service staff are multilingual. This makes our efforts in healthcare enrollment, SNAP enrollment,  and health-based workshops more effective.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.  Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Fortunately, women can keep themselves healthy through the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, as well as regular cervical cancer screenings. However, women in marginalized communities suffer disproportionately because of limited access to care, resources, and knowledge. AAFSC works daily to bridge this gap in our healthcare system.

Cervical cancer is nondiscriminatory and it affects women globally. In fact, this preventable disease is the second largest cancer killer of women in the Middle East and South Asia. In developing nations, it is often the most common cause of cancer-related death among women and a leading cause of death overall. Evidence suggests that the reason why cervical cancer affects certain communities at higher rates than other communities is  limited societal awareness and screening rates.

Further, in many countries, cervical cancer and other health-related issues can be considered taboo topics. Discussing personal details about health goes against cultural or religious norms. This stigma deepens the confusion and lack of awareness, and significantly reduces the likelihood that individuals will visit healthcare professionals.

Therefore, the difficulties facing immigrants and refugees from the Middle East and South Asia are compounded. Not only do they begin with limited knowledge, they have to navigate unfamiliar systems to access care.

At AAFSC, we see communities are vulnerable due to cultural and linguistic barriers. We examine all our work through a culturally sensitive lens, and understand the nuances and struggles our community members face in remaining healthy. Our culturally and linguistically competent, trauma-informed healthcare navigators ensure that each client receives a comprehensive understanding of the healthcare system in the U.S., education about risk factors and preventive care, and access to free and affordable health insurance. In this way, our community members are more confident, talking with their doctors, and taking the necessary steps to stay healthy.

For more information about AAFSC’s Health Program and our healthcare workshops, please call us at 718-643-8000 or email us at info@aafscny.org.