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Cervical Health Awareness Month

By Harbor View Medical Services, PC

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. It's also a major cause of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV. Many people with HPV don't know they are infected. And each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

The good news?

The HPV vaccine (shots) can prevent HPV.

Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.

Cervical cancer screenings can help detect abnormal (changed) cells early, before they turn into cancer. Most deaths from cervical cancer could be prevented by regular Pap tests and follow-up care.

How can Cervical Health Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this opportunity to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

Ten things to know about HPV and Cervical Cancer

  1. HPV is common: Most sexually active individuals have HPV at some point. At any time there are about 79 million people in the U.S. with HPV.
  2. Different types: Some types of HPV can cause genital warts while some other, different types are linked to cervical cell changes that, if not detected early, can increase a women's risk for cervical cancer.
  3. Vaccines: HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts.
  4. Transmission: HPV is usually passed by genital-to-genital even without penetration.
  5. Testing: A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix by HPV.
  6. Treatment: There's no treatment for the virus itself, but healthcare providers have plenty of options to treat diseases causes by HPV.
  7. If you need to talk to a provider or make an appointment, visit our several Mather Primary Care locations.
  8. Relationships: It can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected.
  9. Pregnancy: Pregnant women with HPV almost always have natural deliveries and healthy babies.
  10. Emotional side: It can be upsetting when HPV is first diagnosed, but remember that having HPV is normal.

Finding support: The American Sexual Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition have online support communities at Learn more at, or

"Source: 2016 National Health Observances, National Health Information Center, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC."