January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
HPV is also a major cause of cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.
The good news?
- The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.
Prevention starts now:
- Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
- Parents to make sure pre-teens (female and male) get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to 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.
Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.