Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the latest charity to use a catchy social media hashtag to promote disease awareness.
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is encouraging people to share lipstick smear selfies and nominate friends to do the same
The UK charity is encouraging people to post photos of themselves with a lipstick smear on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #SmearForSmear.
The aim of the selfie campaign is to raise awareness among young people of the importance of the smear test screening for cervical cancer to catch the disease early and improve survival rates.
It follows similar social media led campaigns such as the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Cancer Research UK’s No Make-Up Selfie, which encouraged women to use social media to post photos of themselves wearing no make-up.
The launch of the #SmearForSmear coincides with the Europe’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW), which runs January 25 to 31. The week has its own hashtag #CCPW and was created by the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) to highlight the importance of screening for human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer.
According to the ECCA organised cervical cancer screening programmes can prevent up to 80% of cervical cancers. Many countries still do not have effective programmes in place, however, and 60,000 women develop and 30,000 women die from cervical cancer every year in Europe.
Both Merck & Co and GlaxoSmithKline (GKS) market effective vaccines that protect against HPV, meaning most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented. However, uptake of screening has been on a downward trend in the UK for the past decade despite a bump in 2008/2009 when Jade Goody’s illness brought the disease to the public’s attention.
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales cervical screening is offered to women from the age of 25 up to 64. In Scotland screening is available from the age of 20 although this will be changing to 25 in 2016.
Each year in the UK around 60 women out of 3000 are diagnosed with cervical cancer while two women out of every 100 diagnosed are under 25.