Originally published as "Why We Need to Talk About Violence Against Women When We Talk About Cervical Cancer Prevention," Rewire News Group, November 16, 2017
In January of this year, the New York Times ran an article that generated a lot of buzz in the cervical cancer research community. The article concerned new findings revealing disparities in cervical cancer between Black women and white women as being significantly larger than previously thought. This revealed how all too commonly in health-care research, we miss critical pieces of the puzzle when looking at improving health care for women.
There are several issues that have been left out of the conversation about vulnerability for cervical cancer since the Times report, including sexuality, gender identity, citizenship status—and violence against women. One in four women experiences intimate partner violence during her lifetime. These experiences affect the range of women’s sexual and reproductive health-care decisions, including decisions about cervical cancer screening. If we care about preventing cervical cancer, we need to look critically at how we provide health care to women who have experienced assault or abuse.