E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
As a health professional, I am excited to inform you that a vaccine which prevents cervical cancer was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This vaccine, Gardasil(TM), will protect women from four of the most prevalent types of human papilloma virus (HPV) that lead to cervical cancer and its precursors. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, acquired through intimate skin to skin contact that accounts for almost 100% of cervical cancers, and two of those lead to 70% of all cervical cancers. Although both males and females can become infected by HPV, women are much more apt to develop cancer from contracting HPV.
The vaccine is virtually 100% effective in preventing infection by the two types that lead to cervical cancer and there is no risk of being infected by the virus through the vaccination. The vaccine is not a post-exposure treatment, though. It cannot be used for women already infected by HPV.
At this point the vaccine has been shown to prevent cervical cancer and its precursors for over four years. As with many other vaccines, it is hypothesized that the vaccine will provide immunity throughout life, but the need for additional "booster shots" will be studied over time.
Gardasil(TM) is designed to be administered to females, from ages 9 to 26 in three separate shots within a six-month time period. Research indicates that Gardasil(TM) is actually the most effective in preventing cervical cancer when given to females before they become sexually active, but some are hesitant to advocate the vaccine, because of a fear that immunizing young girls would condone sexual activity. The fact is, however, many married women could even find themselves infected by their husbands, so it only makes sense to take this extremely valuable opportunity to prevent cervical cancer.
If we want to save lives, we must act now. Approximately 3,700 women with cervical cancer die each year in the U.S. and this number could plummet by use of this vaccine. I therefore urge you to talk to your doctor to find out about the vaccination for yourself or your loved ones.
Merck, the pharmaceutical company which will produce the vaccine should have Gardasil(TM) on the market by this fall. The three-dose vaccine will be sold for a total of $360. It will be covered by most insurance companies and will be made available through the state health department for those in need.
For more information, please visit: http://www.fda.gov/cber/products/hpvmer060806qa.htm.