Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

January 6, 2020
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announce January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and encourage you to start the year off right by contacting your health care provider to make sure you are up-to-date with your cervical cancer screening (checking your body for cancer before you have symptoms). Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb). The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina.

"There usually aren't any symptoms of cervical cancer in its earliest stage when it is easiest to treat. That is why it is so important to get tested and follow-up as needed," said Dr. Ruppert.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following for cervical cancer screening:

  • Begin cervical cancer testing at age 21 with a Pap test every three years until age 30.
  • From age 30 up until age 65, the preferred screening is a Pap test plus an HPV test (called "co-testing") every five years. Another option is a Pap test alone every three years.

It is essential to talk to your health care provider about your health history, as you may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer, depending on your age and risk factors. Visit the American Cancer Society's cervical cancer screening recommendations webpage at for more information.

The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), spread mainly through sex. There are many different types of HPV. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, some types can cause health problems, including genital warts, cervical cancer, and other cancers.

Two Health Department clinics offer the vaccine Gardasil®, which can prevent (not treat) certain types of HPV infection and can ultimately prevent certain types of cancer, not just HPV infection. The vaccine works by preventing some of the most common types of HPV, and the health problems that the virus can cause.

  • The Sexual Health Clinic offers the vaccine free-of-charge, while supplies last, to persons between the ages of 18 to 26. Call 845-364-3771 for more information.
  • The Family Planning Services Clinic also offers the vaccine free-of-charge, from teens to those age 26. They also provide Pap tests, pelvic exams, and referral services from age 21 - pre-menopause. Call 845-364-2531 for more information.

Those who are uninsured or underinsured and meet specific eligibility requirements can get free Pap tests, pelvic exams, and follow-up services through the Cancer Services Program of the Hudson Valley. Call toll free at 855-277-4482 for more information or to make an appointment. For more information about cervical cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345, or visit For more information about HPV and the vaccine, visit For more information about Health Department clinics, visit