Alabama health officials seek to eliminate cervical cancer by 2033


Human Papilloma HPV virus vaccine vials and syringe.

Sherry Young

Alabama ranks third in the nation for its rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality, and those rates haven’t changed in 20 years. 

“This is not acceptable,” Nancy Wright said during a press conference Monday. “Cervical cancer is preventable. And it’s stoppable.”

Wright, who directs the cancer prevention and control division at the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), is working with a team of providers and experts from across the state to launch “Operation Wipe Out Cervical Cancer Alabama,” a campaign that aims to end cervical cancer by 2033. 

ADPH officials plan to achieve the goal by aggressively pursuing three strategies: 

  • Vaccinate more kids against the human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer. 
  • Increase screenings for cervical cancer among women aged 21-65.
  • Connect more women who receive abnormal test results to appropriate follow-up care.

Although HPV vaccination is thought to prevent most cases of cervical cancer, rates of vaccination in Alabama are low. Data from 2022 show that roughly 27% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 have completed a full two dose series of the HPV vaccine, which is recommended during childhood and adolescence. Officials hope to significantly increase those numbers through education and outreach.

“This is a historic plan. This is a milestone for us,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “We really believe that we have the tools and the knowledge to eliminate cervical cancer in our state, and with your help we know that we can do it.”

ADPH officials are working with researchers at UAB Hospital, Auburn University, state and local nonprofits and health care providers to implement “Operation Wipe Out.” 

They aim to educate and engage patients through community events and public information campaigns, as well as increase access to vaccination, screenings and follow-up care by adding resources to county health departments and low-income health clinics.


Rickwood Field, a time capsule of opportunity and oppression, welcomes MLB for Negro Leagues tribute

Rickwood Field, the oldest professional ballpark in the U.S. and former home to baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays and the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, will host an MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Alabama native Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid’ has died at 93

Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night he had died earlier in the afternoon in the Bay Area.

What does Juneteenth mean to you?

Wednesday is Juneteenth. a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The date goes back to 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation.  During our recent News and Brews community pop-up at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, we asked people what Juneteenth means to them.

Hall of Famer Willie Mays will not be in attendance for Negro League tribute game at Rickwood Field

Mays, who began his career in Alabama with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and played for the Giants from 1951-72, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will enjoy the game at home.

As dollar stores continue rural expansion, a Louisiana parish found a new way to push back

Tangipahoa Parish blocked a new Dollar General from opening in a case that could set a precedent for other communities looking to keep discount retailers out.

A family’s search for their native and formerly enslaved heritage in South Alabama

The Tate Family has spent nearly two decades uncovering records that establish their ancestors' time in Alabama before its statehood.

More Front Page Coverage