Cervical Health Awareness Month
Last year, 24 of 50 US states rushed to mandate that all girls (age 11-12) be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer. HPV is highly communicative via sexual contact and all sexually active females are encouraged to have annual PAP tests. The PAP is part of the routine gynecological exam, which can also be done by your primary care provider. Cervical cancer is basically the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells on a woman's (usually over 40 years of age) cervix. The increased use of PAP smears for detection of abnormal cervical cells has had a positive impact resulting in a decrease in cervical cancer cases.
Merck's Gardasil vaccine was approved by the FDA to prevent HPV, a risk factor for cervical cancer. Despite what you may read in many sources, there is not definitive evidence that HPV causes cervical cancer. Other risk factors are smoking, having multiple sex partners and having a weakened immune system. HPV causes genital warts and is a risk factor in anal and penile cancers.
- 10, 000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. 3,700 die
- Number of women and girls in the US: 144 million
- Number of people in the US infected with HPV: 20 million with about 6 million new cases each year
- Gardisil costs $360 and most insurers are refusing to pay for it.
- Studies indicate that HPV incidence is much higher in males than in females.
Given these facts, I personally am opting not to have my teenage daughter vaccinated. She and I have discussed this issue in detail and she is in agreement. When that time comes - condoms and PAP smears will be adequate for preventing cervical disease.
Thank you obo-bobolina for use of photo The Dreaded.