187801 A gender analysis of cervical cancer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rebekka M. Lee , Department of Society Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
The recent release of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, has elicited debates among activists, politicians, physicians and religious groups about female sexuality and the rights of women. The stigma that comes with cervical cancer's link to sexual behavior is pervasive and can be seen in the disparities within national data as well as the current policies and programs supported by the US government. This gender analysis examines how the social construct of gender intersects with the sex-linked disease of cervical cancer. It describes the impact of gender norms and assumptions on the racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and age-related disparities in cervical cancer incidence and mortality. A review of current US policy reveals inconsistent recommendations, vague language, and a glaring silence towards women's sexual behavior that could be increasing women's cervical cancer risk. The emergence of the HPV vaccine as a new prevention tool has the potential to reduce this highly preventable disease; however failure to consider gender and its intersections with other social structures could widen the incidence and mortality gaps further. This analysis provides recommendations for future strategies to incorporate a gender perspective in research, programming, and federal policy.

Learning Objectives:
Understand how the social construct of gender and biological sex intersect with current cervical cancer disparties. Assess United States cervical cancer policy from a gender perspective. Apply findings from this discussion to future cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine programming and policy.

Keywords: Cervical Cancer, Gender

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a current master's student in the department of Society, Human Development and Health at Harvard School of Public Health. I have taken several courses that focus on women, gender and public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.