Stick a Nail in HPV

Did you know that January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month? Nothing matters more than the health of our families, and our brother and sister carpenters. Cervical cancer is caused by cells of the cervix that grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs of the body. Each year roughly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, more than 4,000 die. However, cervical cancer is slow-growing. Its progression through precancerous changes provides opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment. See some helpful information below on how you can stay strong and beat cervical cancer and learn more about your health benefits here!

HPV is Common

Most sexually active individuals have HPV at some point. At any time, there are approximately 79 million people in the U.S. with HPV. There are 14 million new HPV infections in the U.S. each year alone!

Pregnancy

Women who have HPV during pregnancy may worry that the HPV virus can harm their unborn child, but in most cases, it won’t affect the developing baby. Pregnant women with HPV almost always have natural deliveries and healthy babies–it’s very rare for a newborn to get HPV from the mother.

Treatment

There’s no treatment for the virus itself, but healthcare providers have plenty of options to treat diseases caused by HPV. HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high-risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, but vaccination is available through age 26. The vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years. Up until age 14, only two doses of the vaccine are required, but those 15 and older, will need a full three-dose series. HPV tests find the virus and help healthcare providers know which women are at the highest risk for cervical cancer. A Pap/HPV co-test is recommended for all women 30 and over.

Relationships

It can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected. It’s usually impossible to determine when or from whom HPV may have been contracted. A recent diagnosis of HPV does not necessarily mean anyone has been unfaithful, even in a long-term relationship spanning years.

Finding Support

The American Sexual Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition have online support communities at Inspire that connect patients, partners, and caregivers. These are safe places where thousands of users find the information and support, they need.