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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Asian Women Chatting over Coffee

Written by Dr. Allan Ho, MD, MPH, FACOG

Let’s take a moment to talk about cervical cancer and steps you can take to prevent it.

Cervical cancer is the third most common gynecological cancer in the U.S. The cervix is part of a woman’s uterus. It is located at the end of the vagina. Changes on the cervix can lead to cancer. When your doctor is able to identify these changes early, they can treat these areas before they turn into cancer. This screening is a simple pap test, and has led to a dramatic decrease in cervical cancer rate.

We also know that cervical cancer is associated with certain High Risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections through sexual contact. You can lower your risk of having cervical cancer by avoiding exposure to HPV, getting the HPV vaccines and getting screened regularly.

This month, be up-to-date on these three ways to protect you from cervical cancer:

Get vaccinated. HPV can be detected in 99.7% of the cervical cancer cases. Vaccines are now available to prevent the infection of some high risk strains of HPV. Learn more about HPV here.

Get screened. Women are recommended to get pap tests starting at age 21. How often you should have a Pap depends on your history, so make sure to talk to your doctor. We recommend that you see your gynecology care provider at least once a year for a check-up. If you have never gotten a Pap test before, you can learn more about it here.

Protect Yourself. The HPV infection is transmitted through sexual contact, so using a condom can help lower your chances of getting the infection. The only way to 100% protect yourself from HPV is to avoid sexual contact altogether.

Talk to your provider for more information on the pap test and HPV vaccines. The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center may be able to provide low-cost or free Pap tests for those who qualify. Call us at (212) 966-0228.

 

Written by Dr. Allan Ho, MD, MPH, FACOG. Dr. Ho is the Chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from New York Medical College, and completed his residency training from Maimonides Medical Center. Dr. Ho is certified through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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Sexual Health Month – Protect Your Child From HPV

sexual health

Written by Dr. Carolyn Chang

For National Sexual Health Month, we want to talk about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection among both women and men. There are many different types of HPV. While some are harmless, others can lead to cancer in the cervix, genital warts, or infections of the mouth and throat. HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer.

How do I get HPV?

HPV is spread during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. There are often no symptoms, so you may not even know if you are infected.

Can I prevent HPV and cervical cancer?

Yes! The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine, which is given as a series of 3 injections over 6 months, has been tested to be safe and effective, with no serious side effects. The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11 or 12. It may be given starting at age 9, and even if you were not vaccinated as a child, you can still receive the vaccine until age 26. To learn more about the HPV vaccine, check out this great info-sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Why do children need this vaccine when they are so young?

The HPV vaccine is more effective when given to girls and boys before they start having sex and are potentially exposed to HPV. This gives them more time to build up protection from HPV infection.

Should boys also get vaccinated?

Yes! Boys are also at risk for HPV infection and can and should be vaccinated. Boys can receive the HPV vaccine until the age of 26, if they were not previously vaccinated.

Talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor for more information about the vaccine. If your child is a patient of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, make an appointment to have your child vaccinated today.

To learn more about sexual health, you can check out some of our resources online. You can view them here.

Written by Dr. Carolyn Chang. Dr. Chang is a pediatrician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She received her medical degree from Washington University, and completed her residency training from Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Dr. Chang is certified through the American Board of Pediatrics.