Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to tackle the myths and stigma around the common virus HPV and get the facts out.
Across the UK, cervical screening is moving to testing for HPV first, it is a far more sensitive test but also means many more women will be told they have HPV. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is running its #SmearForSmear campaign during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20-26 January) to tackle the misconceptions about the virus.
In the majority of cases, HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm. Sometimes it causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer. Testing for HPV is a far more accurate test estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year.
Sharon Hodgson MP and the UK’s cervical cancer charity want as many people as possible to understand the importance of cervical screening and to feel informed and comfortable when they get their results.
New research conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found a third of women consider HPV a taboo topic and would not want anyone to know if they had it. A quarter haven’t heard of HPV and one in five would feel embarrassed if they were told they had the virus. Calls to the charity’s Helpline about HPV have already risen 50% over the past year. It is expecting this to significantly rise as more women are tested for HPV and is calling on health professionals to be prepared for increases in questions from patients and encouraging open conversation.
Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “HPV can be confusing but it is nothing to be ashamed of. 80% of us will get at least one type of HPV in our lives and in most cases the immune system will get rid of the infection without it causing any harm. We need to get the facts out about HPV and get rid of harmful myths and stigma around this really common virus.”
More information can be found at: www.jostrust.org.uk/smearforsmear
Sharon has backed Maternity Action’s campaign to end pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
As part of the campaign, Maternity Action released three videos to empower pregnant women to address pregnancy discrimination in the work place. You can view the three videos here.
Pregnancy discrimination has risen dramatically in the past decade and now affects three quarters of pregnant women and new mothers at work.
Government figures have shown that 20,000 women leave their jobs because of health and safety concerns each year, and 53,000 were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments.
It is also estimated that 54,000 pregnant women a year are forced out of work because of unfair and unlawful treatment because of their pregnancy.
In support of the campaign, Sharon said:
“It is important that pregnant women and new mothers are safe at work and do not feel discriminated against or face problems in the workplace due to their pregnancy. That is why I am backing Maternity Action’s campaign and the launch of their three new videos to help support women if they need to raise concerns with their employer or resolve issues as early as possible.”
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Nov-Dec 2016 number 90
Sharon attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Paula Sherriff MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health, to show her support for efforts to raise awareness of women’s health conditions, and empower women to seek appropriate treatment.
The group aims to empower women to ensure that they can make an informed choice about the best treatment for them and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
The event was attended by many parliamentarians, and was supported by a number of representatives from charities and the medical and nursing Royal Colleges, patients, health professionals and the general public.
Speakers included Katie Piper, television presenter and founder of the Katie Piper Foundation, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, Angela Rippon, television journalist, newsreader and presenter and patients and Dr Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.
Following the launch event, Sharon said:
“Since I was elected to Parliament, I have taken the issue of women’s health very seriously and worked alongside my fellow Parliamentarians to ensure women receive the best treatment and healthcare support possible.
“A lot of this has been done through my work as Chair of the Ovarian Cancer APPG and Co-Chair of the Breast Cancer APPG, and that is why I am delighted that there is now a cross-party group which will be focused on all aspects of women’s health in our society.
“It is important that we understand the conditions that women suffer from and ensure that they are treated in a way that every patient wants to be – with dignity and respect.”