January is Cervical Health Awareness MonthPosted on 1/3/2012
The cervix is part of a woman’s reproductive system. It is a passageway connecting the uterus to the vagina composed of strong muscles that support the uterus. Recent advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of HPV and cervical cancer have prompted an increased awareness about issues concerning cervical health.
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to almost 100% of Cervical Cancer cases. There are over 100 different strains of HPV. While most cases of HPV resolve on their own, certain strains of the virus cause cancer, and others cause genital warts. HPV is transmitted through skin to skin contact in the genital area with an infected individual and can be transmitted even when using a condom. According to the Kaiser Family Report, six million new HPV infections occur annually.
Prevention and early detection of HPV are essential to preventing cervical cancer. An estimated 4,290 preventable deaths occurred in 2011 as a result of Cervical Cancer. The CDC recommends that males and females ages 9 to 26 receive the HPV vaccine. This is a series of 3 shots that protect against the strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers. Three years after a woman becomes sexually active, or by age 21, a liquid PAP should be done to look for cell changes on the cervix. At age 30, or following an inconclusive PAP, women should receive an HPV test along with their liquid PAP. This test can tell someone if they are carrying the virus.
It is essential for anyone who has contracted HPV to go to all follow up appointments and live a healthy lifestyle to keep the immune system strong. Lifestyle practices such as eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, and not smoking are vital to maintaining good health. This January and throughout the new year, follow the guidelines to maintain good cervical health and spread the word to others about preventing HPV and cervical cancer.
For more information, or to read the inspiring testimonial of cervical cancer survivor and Elmira native Christine Baze, visit The Yellow Umbrella Organization website.