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Do you know the #1 risk factor for developing cervical cancer?

Image of vials with HPV vaccination in them.

The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread mainly through sexual contact, including sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex.

The virus can appear years after you have been exposed to it. Using a condom and other barriers during sex decreases the chances of getting HPV, but a condom or other barrier can only protect the area it covers. It may be possible to become infected by any uncovered areas.

Even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine, you still need regular Pap tests. The HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV.