January Is Cervical Health Awareness Month
The United States Congress has designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests).
Cervical Health Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity and causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
The HPV vaccine can prevent HPV, and regular screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer.
We recommend that you consult with your primary care provider, but the general guidelines are as follows:
- Women are recommended to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
- Parents should talk to your pediatrician about pre-teens getting the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12.
It is also recommended that teens and young adults get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
For more information, talk to your doctor or visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) website (http://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-health-awareness-month/).
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