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Latinas and HPV: Education and Prevention

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What is HPV?


HPV Prevention


Useful Links




Preventing HPV Infection

Methods for diagnosing and preventing HPV have improved dramatically with some exciting new technologies. However, even older screenings such as a Pap Smear are effective in detecting the warning signs of cervical cancer. We know this because 85% women who die of cervical cancer never received a pap screening. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that you take advantage of the options available with your healthcare provider.

Pap Smear Screening

Pap screening is the most common method of detecting the signs of cervical cancer. It is recommended for women 21 and older, and those under 21 who have been sexually active for 3 or more years. This pelvic exam involves your doctor scraping some cells from the cervix (the opening of the uterus). These cells are looked at under a microscope to see whether or not they are abnormal, with the results known typically after three weeks. The results of the exam can be normal, abnormal (requires further examination), or inconclusive (the pap may be retaken). An abnormal result usually does not mean that you have cancer, but could be due to precancerous cells that can be treated by your doctor. It could even be a false positive test result, as the pap screen is not 100% accurate. Either way, your doctor will schedule other tests to determine your condition.This screening can be somewhat uncomfortable and can cause minor bleeding. It is important to not use tampons, take a bath, have sex, or douche within 24 hours prior to your Pap screen. Also, it is recommended that you schedule your appointment during times when you are not on your period.

For information on free or low cost pap screening, click here

HPV Vaccination

Recently, a new vaccine for HPV have become available to prevent infections among women. The name of this vaccine is Gardacil, and it protects against HPV types 16 and 18 (responsible for 70% of cervical cancers) and 6 and 11 (which cause 90% of genital wart cases).The vaccine is typically given to females ages 9-26, preferably before they become sexually active. Early vaccination for Latinas is important as they are more likely to engage in sex at younger ages. Because the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV which cause cancer and gential warts, it is not 100% effective in preventing all types of HPV infection.

Woman receiving an HPV vaccination

HPV Test

There is an HPV test that have recently become available to women. It is approved for women ages 30 and older, and is recommended that it be done along with the pap exam.This increases the accuracy of the screening, and is especially helpful when the results of a pap screen are inconclusive. You often must ask your doctor about the HPV test in order to receive it.


Condoms are effective in decreasing the risk of spreading HPV, but are not 100% effective. This is because HPV can spread to genital areas not covered by a condom. There is also currently no method to detect whether a male partner is infected with HPV.

For useful links related to HPV prevention and diagnosis, please click here.




Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Carlo Guerrero in fulfillment of requirements for the course TCL 323 : Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2008.



State University, Spring 2008.