January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected. Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50%.In the United States, Hispanic women are most likely to get cervical cancer, twice the risk of compared with non-Hispanic women and second most likely to die from cervical cancer. Experts believe the major reason for this difference is that Hispanic women are less likely to get regular Pap tests, which can detect the disease at an early, curable stage.
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.
·In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, the LMSA encourages:
Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
Parents to make sure pre-teens 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.
Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy. Stay tuned all month long at #CervicalHealthMonth