January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness about how women can protect against HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.
HPV is a group of viruses that are sexually transmitted and can put women at risk for developing cervical cancer. HPV can fall into either the low risk or the high-risk category. Low risk HPV can be asymptomatic or can cause genital warts.
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a group of related viruses. They can cause warts on different parts of your body. There are more than 200 types. About 40 of those types affect the genitals. They are spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. Some of those can put you at risk for cancer.
There are two categories of sexually-transmitted HPV. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV can cause cervical, anal, oral, throat, vulvar, or vaginal caner.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2014 (the most recent year numbers are available)—
Medlineplus.gov advises that pap tests can detect changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer. Pap tests, along with HPV tests, are used in cervical cancer screening. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading HPV. Vaccines can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer.
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 from healthfinder.gov: