fbpx
Monday, January 25, 2021

When did you last have a Pap smear?

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

With the release of a new multilingual video campaign by Cancer Council and PapSmear Victoria, Australian-Indian women are helping to spread awareness about the importance of Pap smears in the early detection of cervical cancer. These women are also helping to beat traditional taboos surrounding discussing cancer and sex in the Indian community.

- Advertisement -

“Cervical cancer is a very preventable disease but our research shows that some communities may be less likely to screen,” said Dr Hiranthi Perera from PapSmear Victoria, as she introduced the videos to guests present at the recent campaign launch.

“In some communities it is not considered culturally appropriate to speak about these things, so we need to try to break down these stigmas and taboos and ensure that all women have access to cervical screening which could ultimately save their lives.”

The multilingual video campaign is currently available in Hindi and Vietnamese and is the part of a wider campaign that will be offered in seven different languages, to target women from an array of CALD backgrounds. The other five videos will be in Arabic, Cantonese, Punjabi, Turkish and Macedonian.

Shivani Goel, who was one of the campaign participants, spoke about how many from in the Indian community lack awareness about the importance of screenings for cervical cancer detection.

“When I migrated to Australia a few years ago I did not know much about it either and would probably have been too embarrassed to ask. Now I go for regular tests as I realise its importance for my health. I also realised that there is nothing to be scared about and I am glad of this opportunity to spread the awareness to others in my community.”

The Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program currently recommends that all women aged between 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active, should have Pap tests every two years.

However, as the number of women from minority backgrounds who go for testings is quite low, in conjunction with an overall drop in cervical cancer screenings in Victoria, the Cancel Council and PapSmear Victoria launched the video campaign to spread awareness of the importance of Pap smears, and to encourage women to book a test immediately.
According to Dr Perera, the focus groups, research and group discussions leading up to the final launch brought up some common barriers faced by women from Indian and Vietnamese communities. The reflections, thoughts and perceptions from these women were used to develop the content in the videos.

“Our research found that Indian women can be quite compliant with their health, demonstrating an essential trust and faith in the health system and an acceptance of what their GP would recommend,” Dr Perera explained. “There was work to be done around creating awareness about cervical cancer and screenings, which led to this video.”
In Australia, the Indian community is rapidly expanding. India does not have a nationwide screening program, and every year 122,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer with most cases detected in advanced or late stages. Of cancer related deaths in Indian women, 20 per cent are from cervical cancer.
While in Australia cervical cancer screenings are for people aged 18 and over, students in high schools are being encouraged to get the HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer in the future.

“It is important for parents to understand the preventative measures of cervical cancer, so that they sign the consent forms that the children bring home from school,” said Dr Perera.

“Getting the vaccine early will make a massive difference to the cervical cancer rates in Australia.” The HPV vaccine is available for free at schools to boys and girls in year 7, who are 12 to 13 years old.

Having discussions with family and friends about pap smears, cancer screenings and HPV vaccines is vital, as this is what will generate greater awareness, understanding and ultimately acceptance, of the preventative cancer measures that can be taken by those in the Indian diaspora.

- Advertisement -
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

0
  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh as Sima Taparia in “Indian Matchbreaking”

0
  Whether we liked it or not, most of us gave into the Sima Taparia craze during lockdown. Within days, we'd all binged on Netflix's...
karl rock

From New Zealand to New Delhi: Meet YouTube’s Karl Rock

0
  When Karl Rock picks up the phone (with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ no less), his New Zealand accent is apparent. That is, until he bursts...
Buddhist Kung Fu nuns kicking hard at centuries-old taboos

India’s Buddhist Kung Fu nuns

0
  They are the Buddhist Kung Fu nuns of Drukpa lineage, known globally for trekking across the Himalayas to pick up trash, paddling through mountain...
jhansi strawberries

Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

0
  Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal...

WATCH: Aussies try to guess Indian slang

0
  Many new migrants have had to quickly learn the local lingo upon arriving in Australia, picking up the ie's and the o's as part...