A wide range of women's health services available at Whittier Street

1/8/2009, 7:54 a.m.

The Whittier Women’s Health Team is headed by Dr. Laura Holland, OB/GYN, and is staffed by physicians, midwives, nurses and case managers. The team is focused on improving the health of women; early detection and screening for all cancers, including cervical and breast cancers; pre- and postnatal care; and overall wellness for the women in our community.

We have expanded the number and hours of our providers in an attempt to be more accessible to the community we serve. We offer a full range of obstetric and gynecologic care. Please call 617-427-1000 and ask for extension 4141 to schedule an appointment today, for yourself or your daughter, for an evaluation.

As part of the center’s commitment to excellence in women’s health, Whittier has initiated a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine program for girls and women ages 9-26.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. An estimated 6.2 million persons are newly infected every year. It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of sexually active women will have acquired genital HPV by age 50. HPV infections can cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

If a female is not sexually active, why would she need to get the vaccine?

Our hope is that vaccinating a girl before she becomes sexually active will prevent her from contracting an HPV infection, which can lead to abnormal Pap tests or genital warts.

If a woman is already sexually active and might already have an HPV infection, should she bother to get vaccinated?

Yes. The vaccine protects a woman against four different types of HPV. If a woman is already infected with one or more HPV types before vaccination, she could be protected against disease caused by the other types with which she has not been infected.

What can I do to prevent getting HPV infection?

The HPV vaccine is very effective in preventing infection with four common strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Abstaining from sexual activity is the surest way to prevent genital HPV infection. Also, consistent and correct condom use can decrease the risk of HPV infection by 70 percent.

After the vaccine, do I still need to get Pap tests?

Yes. The HPV vaccine will not eliminate the need for an annual Pap test. Vaccination is not a substitute for routine cervical cancer screening.