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End Cervical Cancer In Our Lifetime

Sponsored by: Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (NY), NHCSL President

Adopted by the Caucus on November 18, 2006

WHEREAS, following breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide; and

WHEREAS, cervical cancer is the third most common gynecological cancer among American women, with approximately 10,000 American women expected to develop cervical cancer in 2006 and an estimated 3,700 deaths (or over 10 American women per day) due to cervical cancer, according to the National Women’s Health Resource Center and the American Cancer Society; and

WHEREAS, cervical cancer disproportionately affects minority women and women with lower incomes because they are less likely to have access to the best routine screening programs and most accurate technologies or to have awareness of the causes and preventive measures related to cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, cervical cancer incidence in Hispanic women is twice that of Caucasian women, and overall incidence rates of cervical cancer in Hispanic women compared to Caucasian women are greater than the difference in breast cancer incidence rates when comparing Hispanic and Caucasian women; and

WHEREAS, with regular and accurate screening, cervical cancer is highly preventable due to widespread screening programs that have helped to reduce death rates of women from cervical cancer, though women continue to be unaware of and needlessly die of cervical cancer, even with such advanced medical techniques and evaluative procedures; and

WHEREAS, approximately half of all cervical cancer cases are in women who have never been screened, and 10 percent of cases are in women who have not been screened within the last 5 years; and

WHEREAS, the median age of cervical cancer patients at diagnosis is 47 years, the youngest median age for all female reproductive cancers; and

WHEREAS, a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV), for which there is no cure, causes 99.7% of all cervical cancer cases, and 1 in 4 young people 15 to 24 years of age are currently infected with HPV, and at least 80% of sexually active women in the U.S. will have acquired a genital HPV infection by 50 years of age, and nearly all sexually active adults will be infected with HPV at some point in their life since HPV is spread by intimate skin to skin contact with the genital area, according to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals; and

WHEREAS, most HPV infections have no symptoms and usually go away on their own, but high-risk HPV types can remain undetected in the body for a period of years and develop into cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, experience shows that increasing cervical cancer awareness among women, especially the underserved women within our states and territories, significantly reduces the probability of death and the billions of dollars spent annually to screen and treat HPV and cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, new screening technologies, including FDA-approved testing for human papillomavirus combined with liquid Pap tests, and a newly approved vaccine to prevent the most common types of HPV offer new opportunities to finally eliminate this potentially deadly disease through early identification and prevention; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to recommend that all girls and women 11 to 26 years old be vaccinated with the currently available FDA approved vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous and low grade lesions, and genital warts caused by human papillomavirus;

WHEREAS, leading medical organizations, including the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Cancer Society, the Association of
Reproductive Health Professionals, the American Academy of Pediatrics support the widespread adoption and use of this life-saving vaccine to prevent the most common types of human papillomavirus; and

WHEREAS, disease reduction and elimination are based on preventing disease through vaccination prior to exposure to a given disease; and

WHEREAS, all women are entitled to proper cervical cancer information and the most effective preventive technologies, so that they can be empowered to make informed healthcare decisions and have the broadest access possible to preventive cervical cancer technologies; and

WHEREAS, the State and Territorial Legislatures recognize that only through education, screening, and the broadest vaccination possible can ethnic disparities in healthcare truly be eliminated for the benefit of girls and women from all walks of life; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators supports the development by all states and U.S. territories of legislation to require that all young women, prior to entry into middle school, be educated regarding HPV and vaccinated against cervical cancer and the most common types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NHCSL supports legislation requiring state policy-making bodies, such as departments of health and state CMS programs, to ensure broad access to newly emerging preventive technologies, such as the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine, for low-income and Medicaid-eligible young adult women, in order to significantly reduce the heavy burden of treatment and screening costs to state entitlement program budgets; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NHCSL is firmly committed to the notion that not one more Hispanic woman or woman of color should ever have to be traumatized by cervical cancer.

This resolution was adopted this November 18, 2006, at the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Executive Committee & BBA Annual Meeting held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.