County: Jan. is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Health officials issue reminder that vaccine prevents most cervical cancers 

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 4.04.31 PMJanuary is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Chester County Health Department wants to remind women of the importance of screenings and vaccination to help prevent cervical cancer.

About 79 million Americans currently have HPV (human papillomavirus), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, according to a Health Department news release. However, HPV can be prevented with a vaccine.

The Chester County Health Department offers the HPV vaccine at walk-in immunization clinics, the release said. Vaccination is recommended for females age 11 to 26 and for males age 11 to 21. The vaccine is a series of three shots given over a six-month period and should be covered by most insurance providers, the release said.

Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests called Pap tests, and follow-up care. The Pap test detects pre-cancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cancerous if not treated appropriately, the release said.

“The Chester County Health Department encourages women to talk with their health care provider about cervical cancer screening and prevention,” said c, County Health Director. “Since the infection is often symptom-free, a woman can be unaware of her risk of developing cervical cancer.”

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