Cervivor is excited to share that recently, timed to International HPV Awareness Day (March 4) the “Promoting Resources to Expand Vaccination, Education and New Treatments for HPV (PREVENT HPV) Cancers Act” was introduced in Congress by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Rep. Kim Schrier, MD (D-Wash.).
With a focus on health education and health equity, the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act (H.R. 1150) would:
- Create a CDC-run national public awareness campaign to increase HPV vaccination rates (especially among males and communities most impacted by HPV cancers) and increase Americans understanding of HPV-associated cancers.
- Increase funding at the National Cancer Institute to expand, intensify and coordinate research on HVP-associated cancers.
- Give states additional resources to improve their immunization information systems
- Focus on early detection by expanding funding for the CDC’s Cervical Cancer Early Detection initiative to make sure we are getting the resources out to underserved communities since they are all too often bearing the brunt of cervical cancer deaths.
We are thrilled to have champions in the halls of Congress who are committed to cancer prevention, generally, and to education about the HPV vaccine specifically. HPV is linked not only to cervical cancer as we all intimately know, but also to vaginal, vulvar anal, penile, and oropharynx (head/neck) cancers. Altogether, approximately 35,000 cases of cancer are caused by HPV each year in the U.S., impacting both women and men.
The two House sponsors of this bill shared why this is an issue they are attaching their name to and standing behind:
“It’s the goal of the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act to increase vaccination rates with an eye towards health equity. I’m pleased to introduce the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act to boost vaccination rates and ensure that all communities – especially the underserved – are being educated on the importance of cancer prevention and screening. Americans are dying from [HPV-related] cancer when they shouldn’t, and our bill provides a strong commitment to health education and equity that will save lives and decrease racial disparities in diagnosis and treatment.” – Rep. Castor
“As a parent and pediatrician, I want to keep my child and my patients safe and healthy. The HPV vaccine prevents cancer! My son has gotten his HPV vaccine, as have my patients; and I know that the most important factor in whether a parent chooses to immunize their child is a conversation with their healthcare provider. There is so much mistrust and vaccine hesitancy out there, and while immunizations are one of the greatest public health tools we have, they work best when there is widespread use. That’s why I’m excited about this bill. It will help spread awareness so more people get vaccinated, and also fund research to prevent death from HPV-related cancers,” – Rep. Schrier, MD.
We at Cervivor lent our support to this legislation and are quoted in the press release from the two Congresswomen that announced the new bill. In a few short sentences, Cervivor founder Tamika Felder showed the human impact of this bill, beyond the facts and figures: “ I was diagnosed at age 25 and lost my fertility and nearly my life. HPV is extremely common and when it becomes cancer it can be deadly. We have the tools to prevent cancer, there is no reason why we shouldn’t. I am proud to use my voice to support the Prevent HPV Cancers Act,” shared Tamika
Also publicly supporting the bill were not only other cancer prevention organizations (including the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Society of Gynecologic Oncology and Association for Clinical Oncology) but also leading national health organizations (the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Association of Immunologists, American College of Physicians, American Dental Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Association of School Nurses, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and more.)
Our voices and our stories and our advocacy will be important to move this bill forward. The introduction of a piece of legislation is only the start of a looooong chain of legislative steps that can ultimately lead to bill passage (or not). Bill passage can take years. Bills can get folded into other legislation. Bills can get debated by committee but never elevated to the House or Senate floor for a vote. In this case, the bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, but so far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate. So there is a long road ahead…
On the other hand, the introduction of a bill is itself a win! It means that members of Congress and their staff are paying attention to this issue, and Congressional attention can translate to media attention and enhanced media coverage. It means that there will be future conversations as the Congressional sponsors seek other co-signers and supporters. We at Cervivor, are in it for the long haul, advocating and sharing our stories.