A promotora de salud (health advisor) discusses human papillomavirus (HPV) during a CAA session.

Helping people get educated and take an active role in their health care can make a big difference, particularly when it comes to cervical cancer. While nearly 4,210 deaths are expected from cervical cancer this year in the United States, as many as 80 percent of these deaths could be prevented through regular screening and proper follow-up care. Of the populations studied, Hispanic women are particularly at risk for this cancer. It is estimated that the incidence of cervical cancer among Hispanic women in the U.S. is about 70 percent higher than those in non-Hispanic whites (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos 2009-2011).

With this disparity in mind, Emory University School of Medicine developed ¡Con Amor Aprendemos! (CAA), “With Love We Learn,” a culturally sensitive educational program focusing on Hispanic families and addressing concerns about human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, including its transmission and its relationship to cervical cancer.

To help promote awareness about cervical cancer screening and HPV modes of transmission, Prevent Cancer Foundation funded a two-year grant benefiting CAA to help them develop multi-media educational materials and train promotoras de salud (health advisors) who are active in the Hispanic faith-based communities. These advisors can then conduct the CAA program within the Hispanic community. Two “train-the-trainer” workshops have been held, resulting in 23 CAA-certified health advisors. Already these health advisors have successfully implemented the CAA program in a variety of Hispanic communities.

“The funding allowed us to refine our program and reach a wider audience. It allowed us to go out-of-state into South Carolina and expand the program in a ten-fold manner,” notes Dr. Lisa Flowers, CAA project director and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine. “It allowed us to really disperse that information more quickly.”

The success and effectiveness of CAA are reflected in feedback from participants. Over 98 percent of participants stated that they would recommend the program to family and friends. Fifty-nine percent of participants reported having talked with one to two friends or relatives about getting a Pap test, and 33 percent of participants said that one to two relatives or friends have had a Pap test based on their conversations resulting from the program.

Recently, the success of CAA has sparked interest in Atlanta’s African American community where three churches are adapting CAA materials to make them culturally appropriate for their audiences. CCA is also collaborating with CancerQuest to launch a virtual community, Cervical Cancer Awareness Town, which will feature 15 bilingual videos depicting conversations about cervical cancer, risk factors and preventive behaviors.

 To learn more about the other programs funded by the Foundation’s community grants, click here.