This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
January is recognized as Cervical Health Awareness Month in the United States. Each year in the U.S. approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is often caused by certain strains of the Human Papillomavirus, a common infection that almost everyone who is sexually active will be exposed to at some point. However, cervical cancer is preventable, and treatable, if it is caught early. Regular screening can identify women who are at risk for cervical cancer or other reproductive health issues, and since there are often no symptoms, screening is the best way to catch problems early on. Additionally, there are vaccines available for men and women ages 9 to 26 years to protect against the types of HPV found to cause most cervical diseases, and those which cause genital warts.
Carson City Health and Human Services is pleased to offer services for women that can help protect cervical health. At our clinic, we offer annual pap exams, STD testing and the HPV vaccine to our clients at affordable rates, and we are happy to answer your health questions in a respectful and confidential setting.
We encourage women in our community to schedule a visit to the Health Department or your private physician for a check-up if it has been more than a year since your last pap exam.
Cervical health awareness month also is a great opportunity to talk to your health care provider about the HPV vaccine. HPV is the most common STD, but more importantly than the vaccine protecting against an STD, it protects against a type of cancer that kills thousands of women each year in the United States.
If you are a patient or a parent of a patient between 9 and 26 years of age, take a few moments to talk to your doctor about the benefits of this vaccine.
To help prevent cervical cancer:
• Vaccinate early (females and males ages 9-26 are eligible)
• Pap test regularly (beginning at age 21)
For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.