TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators 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 Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
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.
“According to the American Cancer Society, 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, a member of the panel. “In this day and age, each of us has been touched by cancer in one way or another. This legislation would work to educate parents and physicians on the affects of HPV, and from there they would be able to make the decision whether or not to have their children vaccinated.”
“The HPV vaccine may be the biggest medical advance of the decade, and could help us eradicate the threat of cervical cancer for generations of women to come,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “Through this legislation, we will be able to get out vital information regarding this life-saving vaccine. While leaving decisions about children’s health care in the hands of their parents or guardians, we are ensuring that families have the resources to make educated, informed decisions about their care.”
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 panel revised the original version of the bill, which called for mandatory vaccinations for girls in grades seven through twelve. Under this legislation, vaccination would be voluntary.
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.
“Statistics have shown that the majority of HPV infections are benign and clear up on their own, but other strains can cause serious diseases, including genital warts and cervical cancer. We can help slow the spread of HPV, but only through proper training and education,” Senator Weinberg said.
This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.