By Marc Gauthier
One day, all young Aboriginal women in Canada will be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer. And this will save lives.
This goal is certainly ambitious, but at 26, Jessie Nault, is not lacking in ambition.
Jessie was born in the town of Maniwaki, on the northern edge of the Outaouais, and is of Algonquin heritage. She is the first of her family to attend university. The fourth-year University of Ottawa student is enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous Program, which is celebrating its tenth year.
For Jessie, cervical cancer was the obvious choice as a research project.
The studies conducted on the incidence of HPV among Aboriginal women in Canada are troubling: these women are six times more likely to contract cervical cancer than are non-Aboriginal women.
The relatively high rate of this cancer among Aboriginal women is mainly due to a lack of access to PAP smears, the lack of follow-up care and the high cost of the HPV vaccine, Jessie explained.
“My ultimate goal is to launch a campaign across North America among OB/GYNs to have them purchase the vaccine and distribute it to women in Aboriginal communities,” said Jessie.
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