Cervical Cancer is an almost 100% preventable disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Nearly all of us (>80%) will be exposed to HPV in our lifetime, but only certain strains of the virus are related to cancer. The surest way to protect yourself against cancer-causing strains of HPV is to get vaccinated.
The HPV vaccination is recommended for girls and boys starting at age 9, before they become sexually active and when their immune response is at its strongest. Keep in mind boys should get vaccinated too, as they may transmit HPV to their sexual partners or otherwise be at risk for other HPV-related cancers.
Despite anti-vax rumors in the news, the HPV vaccine is safe. In fact, the FDA has approved expanded use of Gardasil 9 to include people between the ages of 27 and 45.
Check out the Chicago Tribune's take on the matter...
As executive director of Equal Hope, Dr. Anne Marie Murphy, points out, "nobody should be dying of cervical cancer," especially not when vaccinations and high quality screens are available. However, Chicago's cervical cancer rate is much higher than the national average - 39% higher. And unfortunately those rates are much higher for African American and Latina women in Chicago. Equal Hope has set out to address this disparity, with a goal of ultimately eradicating cervical cancer in the city.