January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and I want you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. I can’t help but think about a friend of mine who is really close to my heart. I found out this year that she was diagnosed with HPV. At least that’s what she told me…
I’m certainly not advocating for abstinence. I, myself, am certainly already going to hell, in that sense. However, if there is anything that I have learned more about, while in nursing school, it would be preventative care. With that said, as a future nurse, I feel that it’s my responsibility to educate and advocate for the greater good of our community as a whole.
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.
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, I encourage:
- 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.
With the new 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.