TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Loretta Loretta Weinberg and Ellen Karcher that would require information about human papillomavirus (HPV) be distributed to pediatricians, parents and guardians of students in grades seven through twelve was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women. The virus can cause the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, which if left untreated, can become cancerous. HPV has been detected in over 90% of cervical cancer cases, Senator Weinberg said.
“The American Cancer Society has reported that an estimated 9,700 new cases of HPV-related cervical cancer will occur in the United States this year alone,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “The fact that HPV has been detected in over 90% percent of cervical cancer cases is frightening, and by educating parents about the facts on HPV, they would be able to help prevent their children from contracting the life-threatening disease.”
“Increasing awareness and education are the only ways to help prevent the spread of this life-threatening disease,” said Senator Karcher, D-Mercer and Monmouth. “By distributing this information, parents would be able to educate their children on the dangers of HPV and cervical cancer, and allow families to make the decision that is in their best interest.”
The Senators’ measure, S-2286, would call upon the Departments of Education and Health and Senior Services to develop an educational fact sheet about the causes, symptoms and means of transmission of HPV.
The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee revised the original version of the bill, which called for mandatory vaccinations for girls in grades seven through twelve. Under the amended bill, the vaccination would be voluntary.
“Initially, this bill required parents to have their children vaccinated against HPV, but the Senate Health panel chose to remove that mandate because we felt that it was too much too soon,” Senator Weinberg said. “Even though we’ve removed the mandate, the fact still remains that abstinence and vaccination are the best ways to prevent young women from contracting HPV.”
The bill would also call for the Commissioners of Health and Senior Services and Education to work with the Department of Community Affairs’ Division on
Women to follow recommendations of the CDC to establish a public awareness campaign to educate the public about HPV, including the causes and the most effective means of prevention and treatment.
The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services would also be responsible for preparing a patient information brochure to be distributed to pediatricians throughout the State.
This measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.