Health And Happiness (Pg 5 - Silent Killers)
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Pro-Active Prevention Against CV (Cervical Cancer)

You all know him: Dr. Drew Pinksy. Yes, he's the guy from that late night sex talk show, Loveline, which airs from 10Pm- midnight, Sunday through Thursday. Though he's been working as your "love Dr." since 1983, and you can still heed pertinent sex advice with his newer series, 'Strictly Sex with Dr. Drew', he has presently embarked on a new, more universal series, 'Strictly Dr. Drew (2006)', that focuses on global issues. In an attempt to further stress the importance of practicing safe sex and being proactive about our sexual health and wellbeing, Dr. Drew recently did a special on "Silent Killers" in which he exposed several shocking killers plaguing American society. Among those silent killers was the often ignored disease known as CV, to the medical world, cervical cancer to you and I.

According to a recent article by the Cancer Reference Information website, and Dr. Drew's special, it is estimated that about 3,700 women will die from CV in just in the U.S., in 2006 alone. An estimated 400 of those deaths are to occur just in the state of California. In the past, CV has been one of the most prevalent causes of death for women, particularly American women. Thanks to the Papsmere test, however, the number of CV deaths in American women dropped 74% between the 1950's-early 1990's. Though the CV death rate continues to steadily decline (about 4% a year) in America, it is still responsible for an (unnecessarily) staggering number of American female deaths. And, though it "rarely occurs in women younger than 20," that statistic is gradually being proved wrong, which is likely due to the vastly increased percentage of sexually active teenage girls. And, yes: CV is an STD (sexually transmitted disease).

Though minority women such as African American and Hispanic women, are most at risk, still, there are several other "risk factors" for females of all ethnic origins. Women who are sexually active, or who have ever had sex, women who have never had a Pap test, women who haven't had a Pap in the past 5 years, HIV+ women, and women who smoke are among those at risk for contracting CV.

But fret not, there may be hope! In June, 2006 the medical world had one of its biggest breakthroughs, particularly in the female health and cancer arenas when the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the Gardasil vaccine: a vaccine that will prevent the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the viral STD responsible for the development of CV, and other diseases in women. It is expected that the vaccine will curb more than 230,000 CV deaths worldwide. Better still, the vaccine also works against the deadly hepatitis B virus, which is responsible for more than 70% of all liver cancer deaths.

The vaccine will protect against four HPV viruses responsible for 70% of female cervical cancers, and 90% of genital warts. However, there is a downside for younger women, since, doctors note it is less effective in younger women already exposed to the HPV virus. Still, the doctors are taking a proactive approach, and are recommending the vaccine to all women between 9-26 years of age. *Currently studies are being conducted to test the effectiveness of the vaccine in older women.

But alas, not only women are at risk. One statistic notes that approximately 6.2 million people, both male and female, under the age 25 contract HPV in the US every year. According to the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, doctors are urging men to get immunized in order to proactively prevent spreading the viruses that can lead to CV to their partners during sexual intercourse. Encouraging young boys to get the CV immunization is just another way to prevent the spreading of a deadly STD when and if they choose to become sexually active. In addition the HP virus also causes genital warts, and STD contractible by both females and males. Getting young boys and men immunized would not only reduce the risk of spreading warts and CV to their female partners, but is also a preventative method of protecting themselves against genital warts, of which there is yet no cure, though there are several medications which greatly reduce the symptoms.

Recently the media has gotten involved with the "beat CV" bandwagon, launching a CV awareness Ad campaign that involves soundbyte commercials informing audiences of the risk of contracting CV from the HP virus. The advancing-awareness method campaign is encouraging young men and women to "tell someone they love" and encourage conversation and commitment towards finding a cure and preventing the spread of the disease. The FDA's recent approval of a CV vaccine is the first step towards accomplishing the dream.

One of the main concerns surrounding the new "dream vaccine," as some are calling it, is the fear that encouraging such drastically young women (that being the 9 year olds) to get vaccinated will only increase sexual promiscuity in teen and even pre-teenage girls. Still, doctors are firmly noting that this is just another preventative measure that ensures that when, and if necessary, girls are protected. The vaccine doesn't encourage sexual promiscuity, it encourages awareness of personal health and abstinence by making aware to the teen public how severe such potential viruses like HPV really are.

It is believed that the vaccine will provide immunity for at least five years, though time may conclude the vaccine is effective for longer than that. The vaccine costs $120 per injection, and is administered via three separate injections over a six-month period (total cost is $360). Doctors deem Gardasil as completely safe and only note soreness at the area of injection was the most common complaint.

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