(New York, NY -- February 09, 2007) -- This week, the discussion about the vaccine against cervical cancer (Human Papillomavirus [HPV]) made its way onto the front page and into prime time television. To help readers understand the importance and value of the vaccine for all girls and women, aged 9-26, Hadassah’s Department of Women’s Health and Advocacy has compiled the most common FAQs:
Q: What is the HPV vaccine?
A: It is a vaccine that protects against the 4 types of HPV that are responsible for approximately 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The HPV vaccine is not a substitute for routine cervical cancer screening; it will not treat or cure HPV.
In addition to the vaccine, your health professional has a new tool available to help diagnose HPV infection in combination with the Pap test.
1. The Pap test screens for abnormal cells in the cervix that may turn into cancer over time and doctors recommend that women have their first Pap by age 21 or within 3 years after first intercourse.
2. The HPV test is used to show the presence or absence of genetic DNA material from HPV. An HPV test is recommended for screening women 30 and over at the same time they get their Pap test. Women under age 30 will get an HPV test if their Pap test results are inconclusive.
Q: Who should get the vaccine?
A: The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 and made available for use in girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26. The vaccine may also help protect people who have one type of HPV from becoming infected with another type.
Q: Why is it important for girls and young women to be immunized?
A: To safeguard their health by protecting them against 70% of all cervical cancers caused by high risk types of HPV and 90% of genital warts.
Q: Is it likewise important for Jewish girls and young women to be immunized?
A: Yes. Jewish girls and young women are included in the population for which the FDA has recommended the HPV vaccine. The old wives’ tale that Jewish women do not get cervical cancer is false. HPV is very common and does not distinguish among race, religion, ethnicity or culture.
Q: How can Hadassah help?
A. Hadassah recognizes the HPV vaccine as a breakthrough in the prevention of cervical cancer, and that 2006 marked the first time the FDA approved a vaccine that prevents cancer. Hadassah recommends that you have a frank and open discussion with a health professional to make certain it is right for you or your loved one. For more information visit: www.hadassah.org/womenshealth; www.cdc.gov, www.fda.gov; www.womenshealth.gov and www.niaid.nih.gov, or call Hadassah’s Department of Women’s Health and Advocacy at (212) 303-8094.