HPV and cervical cancer prevention

Did you know more than 13,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year? Most cases are caused by the human papillomavirus, which can cause genital warts and other kinds of cancers too.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. It is a month dedicated to sharing information about important steps people can take to stay healthy and protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection—there are more than 200 types, 40 of which can infect the genital area. It is also the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer and can lead to many other kinds such as anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vaginal and vulvar cancer. The good news is, most cases are preventable with appropriate medical screenings, follow up care and an HPV vaccination.

When used correctly during sexual intercourse, barrier methods such as condoms and oral dams can prevent STIs, including HPV. Although HPV is typically harmless and goes away by itself, individuals shouldn’t disregard HPV. It’s important for all individuals to receive the vaccine.

Gardasil is the most common HPV vaccine. It is available at most pharmacies and is free/low-cost with health insurance. Don’t have insurance? The Center for Student Wellness can help. They have applications available for free vaccines and can answer any questions about receiving the vaccination. Visit their offices at the Student Life Center, room 2100, to fill out the application.

You can receive the HPV vaccine through your primary care physician or on campus at the Student Health Clinic. Both pharmacies on campus—at the Madsen Health Center and at the University Hospital—also carry the vaccine. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find a University of Utah doctor here.

Regular STI testing is vital to take care of your sexual wellbeing. The CSW has resources and opportunities that can help all students care for the physical health of your body and that of your sexual partner(s). Other services include free HIV and STI testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Free HIV testing is available every Thursday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. in the Student Life Center, room 2100. The spring 2020 STI testing mobile clinics will be held on Feb. 12, March 17 and April 8, at various locations on campus. More information can be found on our website and on campus connect.

As we promote Cervical Health Awareness, you can too. Take charge of your health, get vaccinated, help prevent cervical cancer. We wish you a month, year and lifetime of healthy living.