January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and your population health care team at Womack Army Medical Center wants you to know that thereís a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer.

Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus, commonly referred to as HPV, is a major cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity.

About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV donít know they are infected.

The good news?

Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care. The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, your health care team at WAMC encourages:

Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21

Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine (ages 11 or 12)

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didnít get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy.

Please contact your primary care clinic health care team or the population health nurse in your assigned clinic for more information or to schedule your appointment.

Additional information about preventing cervical cancer can also be found at www.nccc-online.org.