Stop sexually transmitted cancer

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With the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began to re-evaluate its preventive service guidelines for both men and women, rightfully taking a closer look into expanding its list of services for women. To support its effort, HHS requested the Institute of Medicine convene a group of experts to provide guidance regarding which services to include. In its report entitled Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, the committee delivered eight recommendations. Among them, the committee urged HHS to mandate Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing among women 30 years of age and older as a new, free preventive health care service.

With the ability to lead to multiple forms of cancer, HPV is like a sexually transmittable cancer. Image courtesy of PKIDs Blog.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection with more than 40 varieties that can infect the genital area, mouth, and throat of both males and females. HPV infections left untreated can lead directly to genital warts, warts in the throat, and cervical and other cancers and lead indirectly to infertility. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected and another 6 million people will become infected every year. Multiple methods are available for preventing the spread of HPV including vaccination, use of condoms, and screening through DNA testing. Yet, with its often asymptomatic presence, HPV often goes unnoticed, infecting at least half of all sexually active men and women at some point during their lives.

This alarming fact highlights the urgent need for a more sensitive form of detection. Recent research has been conducted and actually shown that DNA testing is a more effective method for identifying those individuals with HPV. The test provides additional advantages including prevention of medical waste by reducing the need for further testing such as through Pap smears. Given the current incidence of HPV and DNA test’s multiple benefits, implementation of free DNA testing among women over the age of 30 is an obvious necessity. If reform opponents live up to their threats and successfully repeal the ACA, they will provide HPV will a helping hand in its rampant spread. Reform supporters must do all they can in their power to ensure the ACA is not dismantled, keep tabs on this virus’ spread, and ensure the health of the American people is put first.

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5 Responses to “Stop sexually transmitted cancer”

  1. sarkarson Says:

    This post does a great job of highlighting a method for identification of HPV, which is undoubtedly important. There is also an additional prevention aspect to the issue, which is exemplified in the dialogue related to the HPV vaccine. A year ago, the state of Texas issued an executive order ‘mandating’ that all girls of a certain age-range receive the HPV vaccine. Despite strong support from public health officials and unlikely political proponents (Governor Rick Perry was the one to introduce the measure), there was huge public uproar over the regulation, which highlighted the inherently political nature of proven public health strategies that are tied to sensitive topics such as sexually transmitted disease, child vaccination, and state regulation.

  2. ellenmarieanderson Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to highlight this issue. It is unfortunate in this country that we have such an aversion to immunizing our girls against HPV. From our Puritan past we have made all things suggestive of sex an absolute taboo. While, interestingly, the prevalence of visual violence in television and movies has gone up exponentially without protest. Until we can reverse this horribly skewed view and see violence as the devil we need to fight against and sex as the thing we need to teach our children about and encourage loving relationships as a result, HPV vaccinations will be an uphill battle. Nevertheless, this battle is worth fighting for. I will do my part to assure that the ACA is not dismantled by carrying your message on my own blog.

  3. amandacrosbysorensen Says:

    This is such an important issue, and one that seems to receive so little press! I had no idea that 20 million were currently affected! It seems to me that the focus has really been on preventing the infection in young women (if I remember right, Gardisil is only labeled for girls aged 14-19? I could be mistaken on that). You’re absolutely right though, testing should be available for all women, and the use of DNA testing avoids the invasive current method, and would make testing that much easier to obtain for many more women. Thanks for bringing up this important issue! One question though: Do you think the perceived severity of HPV is high enough that even women testing positive will take steps to cease the spread if they have no visible tumors?

  4. dvandurme Says:

    Thanks for drawing attention to this extremely important issue. HPV is a hugely important issue in public health. While I agree that easy access to screening is important, I think the more important issue is availability of the extremely effective vaccine. Even though HPV can cause sexually-transmitted cancer, I think a stronger message is that HPV can cause a VACCINE-PREVENTABLE CANCER. Gardasil is currently approved for males and females between the ages of 9 and 26, and is most effective if given PRIOR to beginning sexual activity. Too many parents, myself included, like to believe that their children will not become sexually active until they are adults. The reality is that far too many children start sexual activity much younger. I think that many parents would balk at the idea of giving their child of vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease at age 9, but would sign up immediately if they were to give their child a cancer-preventing vaccine at the same young age.

  5. HPV infections | WEBSITEPOINT.NET Says:

    […] and Males Signs and Causes Of Cervical CancerThings You ought to Know about Genital Warts.Stop sexually transmitted cancer .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 […]

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