Cervical Health Awareness Month

The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. During January, NCCC and its many local chapters across the country highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection.

What is HPV?

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each HPV virus in this large group is given a number which is called its HPV type. HPV is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer, especially cervical cancer. There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. But there are vaccines that can prevent infection with the most common types of HPV. – Source http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html

How do people get the HPV virus?

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is so common it is estimated 80% of sexually active persons are carriers of the infection.

Does HPV cause health problems?

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts, cervical cancer, and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus.

How can I avoid getting HPV?

Boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years should get vaccinated. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

The use of condoms for sexually active persons is highly recommended to reduced the chance of HPV and all other sexually transmitted infections (STI).

How do I know if I have HPV?

There is no test to find out if a person has HPV status. However, there are HPV tests that can be used to screen for cervical cancer. These tests are recommended for screening only in women aged 30 years and older. They are not recommended to screen men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years.

Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and 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.

Where can I find more information about HPV?

Please visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm for additional information and resources related to HPV.

National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC)