Human Papillomavirus (HPV) poses a serious health threat to women. It has been shown to have a direct link to cervical cancer and other cancers of the reproductive and urinary tract (CDC, 2014). Most of the time, the immune system fights off the disease. It is a concern when the immune system is unable to fight it off completely and the virus remains in their system. If a person has HPV for two years or more they have an increased chance of developing these types of cancers (CDC, 2014).
Many people who have HPV develop no symptoms. It can cause genital warts or warts in the throat. There are several different species of HPV, only one type produces genital warts. The type of HPV that produces genital warts is not the same as the type that produces cancer. Cervical cancer typically does not have symptoms until it is advanced into the later stages (CDC, 2014). Every detection is the hallmark of successful treatment of cervical cancer.
There is no known treatment for HPV once someone has contracted it. However there are several ways that people can lower their risk of getting HPV. One of them is through an HPV vaccine that that can protect both males and females. The vaccine is given three times over six month period (CDC, 2014). Gardasil and Cevarix are recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 12 years old in girls. In boys and men Gardasil is recommended between the ages of 11 and 12 (CDC, 2014). Condoms may help to reduce the risk of HPV, but they are not entirely effective. The virus can still infect areas that are not covered by the condom (CDC, 2014).
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (2014), the effectiveness of the vaccine is high in the prevention of HPV and the cancers associated with it. In the beginning, the vaccine was recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 12, but this recommendation has not been extended to boys of the same age. This recommendation is for two reasons. The first is that giving the vaccine at that age is more likely to occur before girls begin sexual activity. The second is that the vaccine tends to initiate a higher immune response at that age (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014).
Awareness of the vaccine has grown, but adoption of the vaccine has been slow. Only about one third of the girls eligible for it received the vaccine in 2013 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014). Twenty one states require the HPV vaccine in order to enter school. Some states provide funding to cover the vaccine, while others produce educational literature on HPV and the vaccine. These approaches have only been marginally effective in increasing use of the HPV vaccine. It was found that one of the contributing factors in the low adoption rate is that physicians are not recommending the vaccine to their patients (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014).
Nearly 29 states have no laws or legislation pertaining to HPV and the vaccination program. The most common reasons for not receiving the vaccine was a lack of personal funds and a lack of knowledge about the vaccine. Every year, nearly 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women die (NCSL, 2009). The vaccine is nearly 90% effective in preventing these cancers, yet many young women are not receiving it (NCSl, 20096). This is the issue that will be addressed in his letter.
Choice of Legislator
The targeted legislator for this letter will be Representative Lynn Bechler of Frankfort Kentucky. The reason for this selection is that Kentucky has recently introduced a bill that will require schools to provide information about the HPV Vaccine and a program that encourages them opt in to the vaccine program. She is one of the key representatives behind the measure.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC). Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/
- Kaiser Family Foundation (2014). The HPV Vaccine: Access and Use in the U.S. Retrieved from http://kff.org/
- National Council of State Legislators. (NCSL). (2009). HPV Vaccine Policies. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/