The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests).
Furthermore, 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.
How can I help spread the word?
We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:
- Add information about HPV and cervical cancer prevention to your newsletter.
- Tweet about Cervical Health Awareness Month.
- Add this Web badge to your website.
- Host a community event to raise awareness about cervical health.