If you were unaware The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition more than 14,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, however the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
With that being said we thought it was imperative to highlight the HPV disease and the importance of early detection. So let's get into it!
What Is HPV?
HPV stands for Human papillomavirus and believe it or not but it's the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. At anytime there are approximately 79 million people in the U.S. with HPV.
Types Of HPV
There are more than 100 types of HPV, and about 40 of those can be spread through direct sexual contact to the genital area as well as the mouth and throat. Also good to note that different strains of HPV cause different types of cancer. Of the 100 strains of HPV, 12 have been identified as high risk for causing cancer in some people. HPV 16 and 18 are believed to cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers, and five other strains are linked to another 20 percent of cervical cancers.
Getting a vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in protecting people against cervical pre-cancers and genital warts, as well as oropharyngeal and anal cancer caused by HPV. Experts recommend vaccination for boys and girls around age 11 or 12, and everyone through the age 26. There are a few type of vaccines now offered that help protect individuals from many of the strains of HPV most commonly associated with cancer.
There is no test to find out a person’s “HPV status.” Also, there is no approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat. There are however, HPV tests that can screen for cervical cancer. Healthcare providers only use these tests for screening women aged 30 years and older. Most people with HPV do not know they have the infection. They never develop symptoms or health problems from it. Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening). Others may only find out once they’ve developed more serious problems from HPV, such as cancers.
It's important to know that pregnant people with HPV can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on the cervix. However, pregnant women with HPV almost always have have natural deliveries and healthy babies. It is very rare for a newborn to get HPV from its mother.
Education is key in preventing cervical cancer, HPV and any other disease or virus that's out there. The first step is starting the conversation, getting informed about it and taking action.
Help us spread the awareness of cervical health and get tested!