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Ciara: ‘It’s time to change the narrative’ around Black women’s health

The singer is part of a campaign to encourage Black women to schedule a well visit to get screened for cervical cancer through Pap and HPV testing.

Ciara: It can feel uncomfortable to get screened for cervical cancer the first time, but “it’s really easy.”
Ciara: It can feel uncomfortable to get screened for cervical cancer the first time, but “it’s really easy.”
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Ciara wants to inspire women to take care of their health, particularly Black women.

The singer is part of the “Cerving Confidence” campaign, a collaboration of the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Hologic’s Project Health Equality that encourages Black women to schedule a well visit to get screened for cervical cancer through Pap and HPV testing.

In a video for the effort, the singer says Black women are twice as likely as white women to die from cervical cancer, a situation that left her taken aback.”

“I just thought this has to change,” she says. “I was definitely blown away.”

Linda Goler Blount, president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, says it’s important to understand there is no biological or genetic difference between Black women and white women.

“The difference we see in both the severity of disease and mortality really has to do with access,” Blount says. “Access to screening and access to quality treatment.”

Ciara says it can feel uncomfortable to go in for your first exam, but “it’s really easy.”

“We’ve got to change it to where it’s not an awkward thing,” she says. “It’s just a checkup. Just think of it that way. It’s you being on top of your A-game. It’s you being prepared.”

Blount encourages anyone who is afraid to get tested to “absolutely do it” since this is one of the “rare cancers that is completely preventable through screening.

“What makes this campaign really exciting is we get to help women understand that they don’t have to get cancer,” she says. “You can actually get screened, see some changes in cells, get those cells removed, and you’re fine, cancer-free.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racial disparities in health have worsened as access to healthcare became more difficult and people skipped appointments in fear of getting the virus, Blount says.

“I think that the pandemic really helped make really clear how important health is but also that health disparities exist,” she says. “We have absolutely got to prioritize our health, catch up with our screenings.”

Ciara says Black women need to know that “it’s time to change the narrative.

“It really doesn’t have to be this way,” she says. “It’s not a complicated step or process to be on top of your game... Let’s continue to create that equity for all, for Black women.”

The singer hopes talking about inequalities in health will improve things for her own daughter and for future generations.

“In my daughter’s case, hopefully she looks at Mommy, and she sees herself in me — I definitely see a little bit of me in her already,” she says. “I hope she can... be inspired, be on top of loving herself.”

With three kids at home, Ciara says she understands it’s sometimes difficult for working moms to prioritize health and self-care.

“There are some points where you feel like I am the last in line,” she says. “And, to be honest, a lot of the times, you gotta be last in line when you have kids.”

She laughs, but says, “The world is a much better place when we feel good about ourselves.”

Ciara says she knows it’s not an easy job being a mom but hopes women can find ways to prioritize their health.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, give yourself some grace, but let’s make sure we check off all the boxes we need to so we can be here as long as we possibility can,” she says. “Let’s put ourselves first in that aspect... because there’s no better feeling that knowing you’re giving yourself that self-love.”

Read more at usatoday.com