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January is cervical health awareness month

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition, a program of the American Sexual Health Association, recognizes January as Cervical Health Awareness Month.

More than 14,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.

Both in the U.S. and internationally, the disease takes the greatest toll on vulnerable populations lacking access to health care.

ASHA President Lynn Barclay says this is simply unacceptable in an era when virtually every case of cervical cancer is preventable: “Science has given us incredible lifesaving tools in the form of highly accurate screening tests and safe, effective vaccines. We have the means to prevent cervical cancer: the question is do we have the will?”

Barclay notes that cervical cancer is largely a disease of poverty.

“Universal access to health care is a basic human right. It’s heartbreaking and outrageous that one’s ability to access care to prevent cervical cancer too often comes down to privilege and wealth.”

She adds that access to medical care is only part of the solution: “Stigma leads many patients and health professionals alike to avoid conversations around sexual health. Sex is healthy and natural, and our health services need to reflect that.”

For more information, visit www.nccc-online.org or www.ashasexualhealth.org.