Most of us try to live a healthy lifestyle.
We see our primary physician annually and try to eat healthy and exercise, but we need to be sure we do not neglect our sexual health while in the midst of our busy — and often chaotic — lifestyles.
To protect against sexually transmitted infections, first and foremost, be sure your partner or potential partner gets tested before being intimate.
Secondly, ALWAYS use condoms. Condoms are free and available to all residents during business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday) at the Meigs County Health Department.
It is important that anyone who is sexually active get screened annually for STIs. It also is important to get the human papilloma virus vaccine, which can be given beginning at age 12 through 26 years to males and females. This vaccine is a series of three injections given over a period of six months. It has been proven to protect against 80 percent of all cervical cancers in women, and penile, neck, throat and anal cancers in males. This is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your loved ones against cancer. The HPV vaccination series is available via the Meigs County Health Department. Call the health department for eligibility verification.
For females, cervical cancer screening guidelines are determined by three separate agencies, the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All three organizations agree that women should begin cervical cancer screening at the age of 21 and that HPV screening should be done on females aged 30 or older.
Cervical cancer screenings presently are available at the Meigs County Health Department via the Reproductive Health and Wellness Program grant (which will end March 31); or via the Southeastern Ohio Breast and Cervical Cancer Project for women 40 or older who are uninsured and income eligible. Call 1-800-23-NOBLE or via the Ohio University Heritage School of Osteopathic Medicine Community Service Programs mobile unit at 1-800-844-2654.
For more information, contact me at 740-992-6626.
Sherry Hayman is a registered nurse at the Meigs County Health Department.