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Reproductive Health Professionals Applaud Federal Advisory Group's New HPV Vaccine Recommendations



For Immediate Release
June 30,  2006

Contact:
Ann McCall
(202) 466-3825
communications@arhp.org

The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), representing nearly 11,000 reproductive health care providers, researchers, and educators, applauds the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for helping to ensure that the recently FDA-approved vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV) becomes widely available in the fight against cervical cancer. HPV is now recognized as the primary cause of cervical cancer.

The ACIP voted yesterday to recommend that the HPV vaccine be given routinely to girls aged 11 and 12, that it be provided to all other FDA-approved age groups, and that it be included in the federal Vaccines for Children Program, which provides free immunization to underinsured and uninsured children. The FDA approved the HPV vaccine earlier this month for girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26. The ACIP's guidelines are frequently used as the basis for insurance coverage decisions, medical guidelines, and inclusion in other public health programs.

"ACIP's recommendations are a huge step forward in making the HPV vaccine available to all recommended age groups, regardless of socioeconomic status," said Wayne C. Shields, ARHP president and CEO. "ARHP looks forward to educating health care providers about this complex issue to help them and their patients make informed decisions, based on the scientific evidence."

ARHP's medical director, Beth Jordan, MD, emphasized that, even with an HPV vaccine, screening will still be necessary to target cervical cancer caused by those HPV types not covered by the vaccine and to reach women who do not receive the vaccine. "The HPV vaccine should become part of comprehensive cervical cancer prevention programs that also use advanced and medically appropriate screening methods, such as DNA tests and pap tests," said Dr. Jordan.

About Cervical Cancer
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-killer of women, with almost a quarter-million deaths each year. In the United States, the American Cancer Society estimates 9,710 women will be diagnosed with and more than 3,700 women will die of cervical cancer. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV, with 6.2 million new infections occurring annually and approximately 80 percent of sexually active women will be infected with HPV by age 50. For 90 percent of infected women, the virus is naturally cleared by the body and becomes undetectable within two years. However, persistent infection with "high-risk" types of HPV can cause cell changes that, untreated, can lead to cervical cancer.



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The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is the leading source for trusted medical education and information on reproductive and sexual health. ARHP educates health care providers, informs consumers, and helps shape public policy. ARHP is a non-profit membership association composed of highly qualified and committed experts in reproductive health. ARHP members are health professionals in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy and they include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals in reproductive health. To learn more, visit: http://www.arhp.org.