January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and Jefferson County Public Health wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) 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, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
The good news?
- The HPV vaccine (shot)
provides protection against 70% of cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.
As part of your Annual Wellness Visit, Jefferson County Public Health will provide you with breast and cervical cancer education and/or screening if you are a woman 20 years of age or older (including male to female transgender and female to male transgender).
Cervical Cancer Prevention
ü It starts with you! If you or your partner is under 27 (male or female), complete the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccination series (3 separate injections over 6 months). This vaccine provides immunization against specific HPV types that can cause 70% of cervical cancer.
o We offer the HPV vaccination in our clinic. Call and make an appointment today.
ü It continues with you! Because HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, consider abstinence or limit your number of partners and use condoms. Once HPV is contracted, having a strong immune system will help you fight against the infection. Adopt a healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious foods, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol intake and don’t smoke.
Cervical Cancer Screening
ü Once you turn 21, you are encouraged to have your first Pelvic Exam and Pap Test. As long as the results are normal, your health care provider will repeat these procedures every 3 years until you turn 30.
o A Pelvic Exam is when the health care provider inspects your external genitalia, vagina and cervix; and also feels your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
o A Pap Test is when the health care provider collects some of your cervical cells so that it can be tested for pre-cancerous cells.
ü Once you turn 30, in addition to a Pelvic Exam and Pap Test, Jefferson County Public Health will also perform an HPV Test. As long as the results are normal, we will repeat these three procedures every 5 years up to and including age 65. However, screening may be stopped earlier if you have had your cervix removed for benign reasons; or it may continue for many more years depending on the type of abnormal results in your history.
o An HPV Test is when the collected cervical cells from the Pap test are examined for the types of human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer.
ü Depending on your age, risk factors and the results of your cervical cancer screening, your health care provider may recommend more frequent screening and additional procedures. At Jefferson County Public Health, we will support you in scheduling appointments for any follow-up procedures that may be required.
But I don’t need to…but I feel fine…but I can’t afford…
ü Most invasive cervical cancer occurs in women never screened or those who have not had a Pap Test within the past 5 years.
ü Early stages of cervical cancer usually have no symptoms and can take years to develop and spread. Early detection is very important.
ü Jefferson County Public Health will provide you with accessible and cost effective care. We serve individuals who are uninsured, underinsured, enrolled in Medicaid and those with certain private insurance.
Care Coordination Program
If you are a woman between the ages of 40 and 64, you may be eligible for a new program at Jefferson County Public Health called the Women’s Wellness Connection (WWC), Care Coordination Program. This program helps ensure access to breast and cervical cancer screening among women who have or are eligible for health insurance, including Medicaid, and who meet WWC’s income and lawful presence eligibility criteria.
This program is offered as part of your Annual Wellness Visit and includes:
· Assessing your need for breast and cervical cancer screening;
· Assisting you through completing the recommended cancer screening; and,
· Supporting you with the required follow-up if there are any abnormal results.
If you are already seeing another health care provider for your Annual Wellness Visit and you are receiving breast and cervical cancer screening with them, please consider this a reminder that your annual visit is due in 2016.
Otherwise, please call us today to see if you qualify and/or to schedule your Annual Wellness Visit with Jefferson County Public Health at 303-239-7078.
There is no cost to you for this care coordination program, as this is a benefit provided to you through a grant from the WWC. This program does not provide any financial reimbursement for cancer screenings services as these are provided through your health insurance coverage. If you no longer have current health insurance, you may be eligible for services through another WWC grant program. You can call the Family Healthline at: 303-692-2229 to find the name of another agency that could provide this service.