Department of Health & Human Services

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Cervical health promoted

In a continued effort to reduce cervical cancer in women, the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is promoting January’s nationwide designation as Cervical Health Awareness Month.

DHHS’s Public Health is joining communities around the United States in promoting cervical health. Unlike most cancers, cervical cancer is preventable. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, when administered to both male and female preteens, nearly nullifies the chances of women acquiring this sexually transmitted disease later in life.

Most cervical cancers are the result of becoming infected with HPV. HPV is the most-common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. The disease often takes years, even decades to cause cervical cancer after a person gets infected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems. People with weak immune systems may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it. Each year, about 17,500 women and 9,300 men are affected by cancers caused by HPV.

“Just like all other vaccines the HPV vaccine must be given before possible exposure to the disease to be effective in preventing illness,” said Susan Wardrip R.N. Immunization Coordinator for DHHS’s Public.

Preteens should receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine series long before any type of sexual activity. Additionally, the HPV vaccine produces a more effective immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.

Clinical trials have shown that the vaccines provide close to 100 percent protection against precancers and for genital warts. Since the vaccine was first recommended in 2006, there has been a 56 percent reduction in HPV infections among teen girls in the U.S.

“Parents should talk with their health care provider about the HPV vaccine at the 11 to 12 year old well child visit,” added Wardrip.

DHHS is offering HPV vaccines at its Public Health clinic at 529 I St. in Eureka, and a nurse is available there to answer questions about the vaccine. HPV vaccination is offered by appointment only. Appointments will be scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15 to 4 p.m. To make an appointment for the Public Health vaccine clinic, or to speak with the nurse, call 268-2108.

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