Understanding the problem
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a group of viruses commonly spread through sex. It’s highly transmissible. Most adults will get it at some point in their lives regardless of where they live.
But unlike other sexually transmitted infections, HPV can lead to cancer. For girls and women, this matters because virtually all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and where you live can have an impact on your health outcomes.
Girls and women in LMICs are disproportionately affected by cervical cancer, in part because access to, understanding and distribution of the HPV vaccine is lower in LMICs. As a result, there is less uptake.
For example, in Ethiopia, a lack of reliable infrastructure in rural areas means many girls living there have limited channels through which to learn about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine.
But storylines in our popular Yegna TV show, which has captivated an audience of over 9.8 million, provide girls across the country with crucial information, equipping them with knowledge to take action.
“I’ll always remember the episode when Lomi’s grandmother died. She had cervical cancer…It broke my heart,” says Beza, a 14-year-old Yegna TV viewer from Ethiopia.
“I saw Lomi write that magazine on how others can avoid the cancer, and I felt hopeful. It inspired me to talk to my friends about why we shouldn’t miss the HPV vaccine because it can save our lives.”