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By FDOH Escambia

January 07, 2016

Pensacola, Fla. – January is cervical health awareness month, and it is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. In 2012, more than 12,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer. Of those women, more than 4,000 died.


Cervical cancer is one of the few gynecological cancers that has a screening test available. The Pap test can detect abnormal cells and/or cancer cells early on, during which time treatment can be most effective. The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County urges women to get screened and lower their risk.


Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), of which there are over 100 different strains or variations. This virus is passed from one person to another during sex. Some strains of HPV may not show any signs or symptoms and go away on their own; however, the virus can stay in the body over time and cause cervical cancer. Other risks for developing cervical cancer include smoking, having HIV or other autoimmune diseases, using birth control over a long period of time, and having three or more full-term pregnancies.


What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Cervical Cancer?


  •          Get the HPV vaccine. It protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, and is recommended for girls and women aged 11 through 26
  •          See your doctor regularly for a Pap test (Pap smear)
  •          Don’t smoke
  •          Know your HIV status
  •          Use condoms during sex
  •          Limit your number of sexual partners


For more information on cervical cancer, visit the CDC’s site on Cervical Cancer.


Contact the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County at 850-503-4188 for information on the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and assistance with screening for low-income or uninsured women.


Ask your medical care professional about receiving the HPV vaccine, or contact the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County’s Immunizations program at 850-595-6500, extension 1702 for more information.