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By Noreen Nickola-Williams

January 25, 2017

Noreen Nickola-Williams
904-209-3250 X 1091

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL— The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in St. Johns County recognizes January as Cervical Health Awareness Month as a time to educate, encourage and empower women to visit their health care provider for information on, and screening for, cervical cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. In Florida, there were 914 new cases and 345 deaths from cervical cancer in 2013 (Florida Cancer Data System). Most cervical cancer cases occur in women who either have never been screened with a Pap test or who have not been screened in the past five years.

Since the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was introduced in 2006, CDC reports there has been a 64 percent reduction in vaccine-type HPV infections among teen girls in the United States. Studies have shown that fewer teens are getting genital warts and cervical pre-cancers are decreasing. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. HPV is a common skin virus that is passed from one person to another during sexual activity.

It important to know that the HPV vaccination series can help prevent multiple cancers, including cervical cancer and cancer of the head, mouth, neck and throat. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices recommends vaccinating both boys and girls from 11 to 12 year of age. The HPV vaccine may be given starting at 9 years of age and through the age of 26 for those who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger.

  • The HPV vaccine is available through DOH-St. Johns County Health Department’s Immunization Clinic. Please call 904-209-3250 for further information.

Talk to your medical provider about when a Pap test is most appropriate for you. Tests for specific HPV strains can support earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer. When found early, it is highly treatable.

According to CDC, follow these tips to reduce your risk or prevent cervical cancer:

  • Get the HPV vaccine;
  • See your doctor regularly for a Pap test if you are a woman between the ages of 21 and 65;
  • Do not smoke; and
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.

Please contact the DOH Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at 850-245-4330 for information on the statewide program which provides pap tests and mammograms to women ages 50-64, who are uninsured and are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Information is also available via the DOH website:

About the Florida Department of Health

Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, Florida Health works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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