Peter K. New Award Winner, 2009
Karen Dyer is a PhD student in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. She received a dual Masters degree in anthropology and public health from USF in 2008, and her BA in psychology from Connecticut College. Her research interests include experiences of cancer survivorship, health disparities, health-related NGOs, and reproductive and sexual health. Her paper investigated the underlying factors and intricacies of cervical cancer-related stigma through in-depth interviews with cervical cancer survivors. Women’s experiences of stigma were often tied to interacting and interdependent beliefs surrounding causation: cervical cancer’s connection to sexual behavior, its perception as a disease that is caused by individual lifestyle choices and behaviors, and its new recognition as a preventable condition through regular screening and the new HPV vaccine. Beliefs about all of these characteristics have combined to generate untold consequences from the perspective of the survivors—guilt, shame, and embarrassment; fear of others’ beliefs, perceptions and behavior; lack of support services, financial assistance and cutting-edge treatment; and structural discrimination in funding and research policy.