27 Jan Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
January is cervical cancer awareness month. This is a cancer that typically occurs in adults, but one way to prevent it is to immunize teens and pre-teens against human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that predominantly causes cervical cancer. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, specifically through skin-to-skin contact, not through the exchange of bodily fluids. Many parents ask us why we give the vaccine at a young age, and the reason is the vaccine is most effective when given before sexual activity starts. Here are some facts about HPV:
- Approximately 80% of Americans will be exposed to the virus in their lifetimes.
- About 40% of women with just one sexual partner get HPV within two years of becoming sexually active.
- HPV can stay hidden in the body and become active up to 20 years after first entering the body.
- Latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the transmission of HPV.
- HPV can also cause disease in men: a third of all the deaths from HPV-related cancers occur in men.
For your sons and daughters, please consider the HPV vaccine. For mothers, make sure you get regular screenings with a Pap smear.