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STDs are a significant health challenge facing the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in this country. Half of these new infections occur in young people aged 15–24, and account for almost $16 billion in health care costs. HPV is the most common sexual transmitted infection which can cause cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer was once the most common cause of cancer death among women. Today, it is entirely preventable with proper screening. The Pap test is one of the most effective ways to detect cervical cancer early and has reduced cervical cancer death by more than 70 percent since its introduction in the 1950s.

There are two screening tests that are used to detect cervical cancer: the Pap test which screens for precancerous cellular changes in the cervix; and the HPV test which identifies the presence and type of HPV infection. When both these tests are performed simultaneously, it is called co-testing. Talk to your doctor about which screening method is best for you.

Professional guidelines recommend women start getting the Pap test at age 21, then every three years. A Pap-plus-HPV test, or co-testing, is recommended for women between 30 and 65-years old every three to five years, regardless of whether they have received HPV vaccination.

Talk to your doctor about your sexual health and ask about appropriate preventative measures, such as vaccinations and screenings, to help you live a healthy life. For women under 30, be sure to ask about the Pap test, and for women 30 and older, make sure to ask about getting a combination of Pap-plus-HPV testing to screen for cervical cancer.

For more information check out condom consequences.


Information provided by: Dr. Mamie Bowers, obstetrician-gynecologist at All Women’s Health Care in Flemington, NJ

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