Julia Lourie works at the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), where she is responsible for planning and executing events and projects that augment BPI’s strategic goals. Prior to her work with BPI, Lourie worked as a fine art production manager, spending time at Creative Time, Hauser + Wirth, Studio Alicia Framis, and OSMOS, among others. As an advocate for the health of women and girls, Lourie seeks to combine empathic modes of communication with demonstrably effective action.
Women continue to die of cervical cancer, despite it being a preventable disease. Cervical cancer is caused by exposure to the Human papillomavirus (HPV). Nearly 90 percent of cases occur among women in low and middle-income countries, making it a disease of inequity.
The majority of cervical cancer cases can be prevented with the HPV vaccine, which is available free of charge in Trinidad & Tobago, yet uptake is extremely low. Parents and caregivers are the key to accessing the vaccine when it is most effective -- in early adolescence. Unfortunately, many caregivers do not understand the importance of the vaccine, or that it’s available at all. Widespread misinformation about the nature and causes of cervical cancer and stigma surrounding the HPV vaccine prevent women from accessing the services they need.
This project seeks to prevent unnecessary deaths and illness resulting from cervical cancer by taking a life cycle approach: offering preventative care through the vaccine before instances of cancer become likely, while bolstering the capacity and quality of screening and treatment options for mature women.
Working closely with Trinidad & Tobago’s Ministry of Health, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and key partner institutions, we will re-position the HPV vaccine to generate demand, educate women and girls to drive uptake of screening, support health facilities to screen and treat women in need, and coordinate the public and private sectors to develop a road map for implementation at scale.
This project will build upon the Ministry of Health’s efforts to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine, and will help promote early screening and treatment, thereby preventing unnecessary instances of cancer and drastically reducing the number of cervical cancer-related deaths.
The insights and lessons learned from this project will be integrated into the public and private health service sectors across Trinidad & Tobago and expanded throughout the Caribbean. With a sharp focus on advocacy, this project will share findings, challenges, and lessons learned across all sectors. By sharing our findings, we hope to increase tactical support to eliminate cervical cancer and to end the tragic, unnecessary losses that continue to result from this preventable disease.