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Policies and actions to eliminate a disease or minimize its effect; to reduce the incidence and/por prevalence of disease, disability, and premature death; to reduce the prevalence of disease precursors and risk factors in the population; and, if none of these is feasible, to retard the progress of incurable disease. Several levels or categories of prevention are defined, but in some situations the distinction is more artificial than real. Primordial prevention includes elimination of predisposing risk factors, such as environmental control of disease vectors, and predisposing factors, such as illiteracy and maternal deprivation. Primary prevention includes protection from effects of exposure to a disease agent, e.g., vaccination against infectious pathogens. Secondary prevention includes the use of screening tests or other suitable procedures to detect serious disease as early as possible so that its progress can be arrested and, if possible, the disease eradicated. An example is the Pap test to screen for cancer of the cervix. Tertiary prevention includes interventions aimed at arresting the progress of established disease.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology — Social Work.

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