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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TENNESSEE: A Pap Test and a Vaccine May Save Your Life

January 17, 2012
Clarksville Online (01.10.12) - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Tennessee Department of Health is marking January's designation as National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by promoting screening and prevention.

"We urge all women to get screened for cervical cancer and talk to their health care providers about ways to prevent and reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer," said Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "The survival rate is almost 100 percent for women whose cervical cancer is found at an early stage. Deaths from cervical cancer could be decreased dramatically through the combination of vaccination and regular Pap testing." Nearly all cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus, a common STD that infects about half of sexually active people in their lifetime. "The HPV vaccine is quite safe and very effective at preventing infections that can lead to cervical cancer and other kinds of cancer in both men and women. For this reason, it is now recommended for both young women and men," said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, medical director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. "Because the vaccines prevent infections but cannot treat pre-existing infections, they work best when given well before sexual activity begins." HPV vaccines are available at doctors' offices and through the Vaccines for Children program in the state's public health clinics for anyone under age 19 with TennCare or without insurance coverage.

But even those vaccinated against HPV still need regular Pap tests. Among US women diagnosed with cervical cancer, 60 percent to 80 percent had not had a Pap test in the previous five years. Uninsured women can contact their local community health center or county health department for information on screening services and locations.

For more information, telephone 877-969-6636 or visit http://health.state.tn.us/bcc/index.htm.

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