The Department of Sports is honoring women this month with events focused on women’s health and fitness.
On Tuesday, the department hosted a free Women’s Health, Wellness and Nutrition Presentation at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and is inviting women to a demonstration and workout with CrossFit 7 Mile on West Bay Road on Saturday.
“Every women’s month … we try to honor women and also try to make the public more aware of what’s going on and try to increase awareness of and participation in sports, to get more women involved,” Merta Day, sports coordinator for women, said. “We thought, we’re oftentimes focusing on a lot of physical activity, so we need to start including some more wellness.”
This year, the department has partnered with the Cayman Islands Cancer Society for the presentation on women’s health.
The event on Tuesday began with a presentation on the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer by TrinCay’s Kirk Donald, a medical technologist.
Data on the incidence of cervical cancer and HPV in the Cayman Islands is not available, but Mr. Donald said that based on the 600 to 700 patients he has seen in three years working at TrinCay, the territory is doing well in preventing the spread of the sometimes cancer-causing HPV infection.
Mr. Donald said he has come across 72 patients with atypical cells of undetermined significance, a common abnormal Pap test result that can be a sign of a present HPV infection.
The medical technologist said that once a woman becomes sexually active, or turns 21, she should get a Pap test every year. In the past, it was recommended that women get a Pap test every two years.
The Cayman Islands Cancer Society provides free vouchers to women who cannot afford – or whose insurance does not cover – biennial Pap tests. The tests can reveal changes in cells that can indicate cancer or conditions that could develop into the disease.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by two types of the HPV virus, however Mr. Donald and Cayman Islands Cancer Society Project Coordinator Victoria Anderson said there is an easily accessible vaccine that can protect against the HPV virus.
Currently, the cancer society offers free HPV vaccinations to girls in the public schools, starting at age 11.
Ms. Anderson said boys can also get the vaccine, and the center is looking for more funding to be able to cover the cost of the vaccine for boys and girls.
“Definitely the boys, they do need the vaccine because they are a carrier of HPV,” Ms. Anderson said. “Any parent who has a boy can go to a health clinic and get the vaccine.”
Mr. Donald said the vaccine should be given to young people starting at age 9, before the onset of sexual activity.
Mr. Donald said that while cervical cancer is one of the most curable cancers, it is still one of the leading causes of death in women because women are not getting checked often or early enough.
“Cervical cancer is slow-growing, so there’s ample time for females to check themselves and do their Pap and save themselves from this,” Mr. Donald said.
Following the presentation on cervical cancer, Andrea Hill, a holistic nutrition educator, gave a presentation on wellness, general fitness, sustainable diets and nutrition.
Saturday’s session from 1-4 p.m. at CrossFit 7 Mile will feature women performing a workout. Spectators will be invited to try out a few basic CrossFit movements. Beverages and refreshments will be provided.