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Watch: Ciara Tells Verywell Why Annual Well-Women Visits Are So Important

Ciara speaking with Dr. Shepherd on Zoom

A visit to the gynecologist’s office might not be the most exciting thing on your calendar this summer, but taking the time to get a Papanicolaou test (or, pap smear) is important—the simple screening can be lifesaving.

The National Cervical Cancer coalition recommends that anyone with a cervix between the ages of 21 and 29 get a pap smear every three years, and those 30 to 65 get co-tested with a pap smear and an HPV test every five years. These tests screen for cervical cancer—a form of cancer that is most frequently linked to HPV exposure—by allowing doctors to check for abnormal cells that could indicate something’s off. 

Actress, model, and Grammy award-winning singer Ciara is using her platform to advocate for a new campaign with Black Women Health Imperative, Hologic, and Project Health Equality called "Cerving Confidence." It’s meant to encourage women of color to check in with a gynecologist and see if they might be due for a pap smear or HPV test.

Black women and Hispanic women have higher rates of cervical cancer than other racial and ethnic groups. For Black women, 8 out of every 100,000 will get cervical cancer, and for Hispanic women it’s 9 out of every 100,000. The rate is 7 out of every 100,000 for white women.

It’s not only incidence rates—Black women are also less likely to survive a cervical cancer diagnosis than white women, in part because they’re often diagnosed too late.

Because symptoms don’t typically appear until the later stages of cervical cancer, it’s important to visit the gynecologist and get tested regularly so that any abnormalities can be addressed before the disease progresses. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more likely those diagnosed will recover and achieve remission.

Ciara sat down with Jessica Shepherd, MD, the chief medical officer at Verywell and board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, to share her own experience with getting screened for cervical cancer, and to encourage other women of color to do the same. For Ciara, it’s all about changing the narrative so that well-woman check-ups aren’t seen as daunting or overwhelming, but rather as an act of self-love and self-care. And, making frequent gynecologist appointments also sets a great example for the next generation of young people to become comfortable advocating for their own health. 

The Cerving Confidence campaign is encouraging women to upload photos to social media with the hashtag Cerving Confidence to spread the word and normalize getting cervical cancer tests when you need them. 

Watch the interview here.

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Ciara & Dr. Shepherd Talk Importance of Annual Well-Women Visits

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Cervical Cancer Screening: Pap and HPV Tests.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV-Associated Cervical Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity. Updated September 3, 2020.

  3. Razzaghi H, Saraiya M, Thompson TD, Henley SJ, Viens L, Wilson R. Five-year relative survival for human papillomavirus-associated cancer sites. Cancer. 2018;124(1):203-211.

  4. Weragoda J, Azuero A, Badiga S, Bell WC, Matthews R, Piyathilake C. An examination of racial differences in 5-year survival of cervical cancer among African American and white American women in the southeastern US from 1985 to 2010. Cancer Medicine. 2016;5(8):2126-2135. doi:10.1002/cam4.765