January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Each year in the U.S. more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die as a result. Cervical cancer is an important health equity issue: in the U.S. and around the world, the disease is linked strongly with poverty and lack of access to medical care. This is frustrating and unfortunate, because screening tests and vaccines exist that give us the capacity to essentially eliminate the disease. “Screening is the best way to detect abnormal cells and prevent cancer,” says Roni Galas, the Clinic Manager at Carson City Health and Human Services. She continues, “Screening consists of Pap smear testing and for some women testing for the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Talk to your health care provider about the screening intervals that are recommended for you based on your age. For women 26 and under the HPV vaccine is recommended as an important step in cervical cancer prevention.”

Carson City Health and Human Services offers women’s health services, including screening for cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine, at our clinic on Long Street in Carson City. Carson City Health and Human Services follows the U.S. Preventative Task Force guidelines for cervical cancer screening, which recommend screening for cervical cancer in women ages 21 to 65 years with a Pap smear every 3 years. Ask your health care provider if you should be screened for cervical cancer.

Access to preventative health care is crucial, and one valuable part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all health insurance plans to cover cervical cancer screening tests at no cost. Locally, Women’s Health Connection is a resource to help pay for cervical cancer screening for qualifying uninsured women. Additionally, all health care services, including cervical cancer screening and vaccinations, are available at Carson City Health and Human Services on a sliding fee scale for those without insurance. Our clinic also accepts Medicaid, Nevada Check-up and most private insurance plans. The Vaccines for Children Program provides free HPV vaccine for females up to age 18 who are uninsured.

Ensuring all women have access to these lifesaving measures can help reduce the number of women who suffer from cervical cancer. However, even with medical tools that can help detect and prevent cervical cancer, an important first step is starting the conversation, which many women feel uncomfortable doing. Take the first step, and talk to your health care provider about your risk for cervical cancer.

To make an appointment with our clinic, call 887-2195. For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.


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