Intergenerational Approaches to Prevent and Treat
Cervical Cancer in the Caribbean

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Julia Lourie

Julia Lourie is a committed project manager, advocate, and fundraiser in the fields of criminal justice reform, women’s health, and the arts. Lourie currently works at the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), a program of Bard College that opens access to high-quality college opportunity to people incarcerated in New York State prisons, and which supports returning citizens with Reentry and Continuing Education services. She is proud to bring her skills of event production, fundraising, and community outreach to use on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Lourie serves on the Board of Directors of ARRAY Alliance and Hivewild contemporary dance company. She holds a BS with Honors from NYU Steinhardt in Media, Culture, and Communication.

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The Issue

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.

Pilot And Learn

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.

Leverage And 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.