Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (Lothians) (SNP) is using her website and Facebook page to increase awareness of cervical cancer and how to prevent it during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23rd-29th January 2011).

Cervical cancer is a disease which is preventable through cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme.  Despite this, last year 20% of women did not take up their invitation for cervical screening.  In addition, only 50% of older girls offered the HPV vaccine have elected to have this potentially life-saving jab.

Ms Somerville said:
“I’m using social media to increase awareness of cervical cancer, and in particular, its prevention.  With women leading busier lives – going to work; doing the school run, looking after the family – it’s easier to forget to make time for a health check.  Even if one woman reads my Facebook cervical cancer advice post and add ‘book in for a cervical smear’ to their daily list – which takes around five minutes and could potentially save their life.  They can also easily share the page with their friends to spread the word themselves.

“All women in Scotland aged 20-60 years old are offered a free cervical screening test and it is worrying to know that 20% did not take up this offer.  I welcome the Scottish Government’s introduction of the HPV immunisation programme which has further highlighted the cancer, especially amongst younger females.  Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness and get the discussion going again on a subject not highlighted enough”.