In recognition of January's designation as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Damon Arnold, Illinois' public-health director, is advising women older than 21 to be screened for the disease. Cervical cancer is an AIDS-defining condition.
Records show that 572 Illinois women were diagnosed with the cancer in 2006, and 173 died of it. Almost all cervical cancer deaths are preventable through early detection, treatment, and follow-up. In addition to Pap testing, other steps women can take to reduce their risk include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.