Race to None: TogetHER for Health’s fight to eliminate cervical cancer

Written by Tom Harmon, External Affairs Director at TogetHER for Health

It seems hard to believe, but 2022 marks five years since TogetHER for Health was formed to drive awareness and action to end cervical cancer, everywhere. In these five years, we’ve seen the movement to eliminate this preventable disease gain momentum and strength.

TogetHER exists because we believe that our mission is both urgent and achievable. For the first time in history, we are on a path to permanently end a cancer. Your partnership can make cervical cancer elimination a reality – below are several ways you can support this global movement. 


Single-dose of HPV vaccine: a “game-changer”

On 4th-7th April, the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) came to the agreement that a single dose of HPV vaccine delivers a level of protection against HPV infection that is comparable to two-dose HPV vaccine schedules. This is a huge step towards our shared vision of ensuring that girls globally grow up protected from cervical cancer.

This decision was made in consideration of evidence published over the last three years, demonstrating the immune responses of single doses of HPV vaccines, and their efficacy in preventing HPV infection.


Transforming Awareness into Action for Cervical Cancer Elimination

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the impact cervical cancer has on women, families, and communities around the world.

Our organizations – Cervical Cancer Action for Elimination and TogetHER for Health – are committed to driving awareness of the lives affected by this preventable disease, and the opportunities to change those stories.

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) outlined a plan to eliminate cervical cancer. This is an unprecedented opportunity: the first-ever chance to globally eliminate a cancer. To put all countries on the path towards elimination, the following targets have been set for 2030:

  • Vaccinating 90% of girls against cervical cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) by 15 years of age, vaccines which have been proven to reduce incidence of cervical cancer by nearly 90%;
  • Screening 70% of women at ages 35 and 45 for precancerous cervical lesions, an intervention that can result in an 80% reduction in cervical cancer mortality; and
  • Treating 90% of those women identified with cervical disease, including 90% of women with pre-cancer and 90% of women with invasive cancer.


HPV vaccine shown to reduce cervical cancer

It’s official: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents cervical cancer.

The world has known for several years that the HPV vaccine is effective in preventing the occurrence of certain HPV infections, as well as preventing the changes in cells that can precede cervical cancer. But up until recently, the world’s first groups of HPV vaccinated girls had not been old enough to see any impact of the vaccine on the numbers of women developing cervical cancer. As the first vaccinated cohorts are now reaching their late 20s – when the risk of cervical cancer would usually increase – and they are old enough to enter cervical screening programmes, the impact is starting to be recognised at the real-world level. With data now coming in, two recent studies have shown for the first time that the HPV vaccine does, indeed, protect against cervical cancer.

In October 2020, a study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden used medical registry data to compare the incidence of cervical cancer in women who had the HPV vaccine when they were girls, against women who didn’t have the vaccine when they were girls. The study found that women who had been vaccinated against HPV have a 47 in 100,000 chance of developing cervical cancer in contrast to women who have not been vaccinated against HPV, who have a 97 in 100,000 chance of developing the disease. They concluded that HPV vaccination almost halves individuals’ chances of developing cervical cancer.


Welcome to CCAE Network’s very first blog post!

Over the years, CCA (and now CCAE) has strived to amplify the stories and successes of cervical cancer advocates and survivors across the globe. CCAE makes every effort to share these items faithfully and powerfully, and does so with the aim of inspiring and empowering peers in the fight to end cervical cancer.

A lot of this content has been shared via CCAE social media channels, newsletters, or on partners’ websites and, as a result, the messaging has reached wide and diverse audiences far beyond our core community.

The CCAE Network is currently in the process of re-evaluating its approach to knowledge exchange and advocate support. It’s been recognised that – in addition to using these valuable platforms – it would be beneficial to have a collective repository for these pieces to enable easy knowledge-sharing and quick action. By doing this, your resources and stories will continue being as useful as possible for as long as possible. And, as current best practices advance, the work we document here will become something we can look back on in the coming months and years to see how far we have come.

So for now, we welcome you to CCAE’s new blog, and ask you to stay tuned and contribute to this space. We’re confident that together, we can continue to share guidance, champion, raise awareness of and ultimately unite the work of our community. We can and we will eliminate cervical cancer in the lifetime of today’s youngest girl!