Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland cervical cancer campaign launched

HPV on a smear
Image caption The human papilloma virus can cause cervical cancer

The UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity has launched a campaign in Northern Ireland to mark national Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Jo's Trust want to raise awareness of cervical cancer prevention as well as extending its support network to women diagnosed with the disease.

Only 77.3% of women in Northern Ireland take up their cervical screening invitation, according to the charity.

The figure drops to 72% in the Belfast Trust area.

Buses across Belfast will carry adverts calling for women in the city to take up their screening invitation.

January also sees the launch of the first face-to-face support group dedicated to women who have been through a cervical cancer diagnosis in Northern Ireland.

Robert Music, director of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "The screening programme saves 5,000 lives each year in the UK yet almost a quarter of women in Northern Ireland are not being screened.

"Through research commissioned by the charity we have found several barriers to cervical screening uptake including misinformation, confusion, a lack of convenient appointment times from GP surgeries (especially for working women) as well as embarrassment and fear of the procedure which all contribute to a lower uptake.

"This is why we are running adverts on the side of Belfast buses - both to stress the importance of cervical screenings but also to raise awareness of the charity as an information resource.

"We urge all women in Northern Ireland to make a cervical screening test a priority and get in contact with us if they have any concerns."