January is recognized as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer.
West Virginia has the fourth highest incidence rate of HPV-associated cancers in the nation, for both males and females, and the second highest mortality rate for cervical cancer. The disturbing fact is that no woman should die of cervical cancer. Up to 93% of cervical cancer can be prevented by screening and vaccination.
Although HPV vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in protecting against the HPV types targeted by the vaccines, HPV vaccination rates remain low in West Virginia. In fact, in 2018, only 42.9% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age in West Virginia were fully vaccinated against HPV.