Vaccines Show Promise in Eliminating Cervical Cancer
Early vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) could vastly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, and two vaccines are nearing the point of regulatory approval. GlaxoSmithKline has developed a vaccine containing the two strains of HPV most likely to cause cervical cancer, according to the New Scientist, and this vaccine has prevented 90 percent of new infections in testing groups. Merck achieved similar results with its HPV vaccine, comprised of the same two HPV strains as well as two HPV strains that can cause genital warts. Dr. Philip Davies, head of the European Cervical Cancer Association told the Canadian Press that “at this point in time, we have the means to virtually eliminate cervical cancer. So it’s really the first human cancer that we could virtually eliminate in developed nations.”
Because HPV can be sexually transmitted, girls would ideally be vaccinated before their first sexual encounter, a possibility that presents challenges worldwide. N. K. Ganguly, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the New Scientist that convincing parents to vaccinate their daughters against a sexually transmitted infection would require a massive educational effort. The New Scientist suggests that, paradoxically, vaccinating men may be the easiest way to eliminate HPV and cervical cancer among women, as men would not face the same taboos relating to their sexual activity. Furthermore, according to the Canadian Press, it remains unclear whether the pricing of new vaccines will be low enough to allow women in Third World countries, where even pap smears are rare, to access to HPV prevention.
Cervical cancer prevention is making progress in the United States, as 17 states have enacted bills or resolutions addressing the issue, and 35 states have considered such legislation, according to Women in Government, a bipartisan, national organization women state legislators. Of these measures, some create task forces “to bring new knowledge, expertise and technologies to the fight against cervical cancer,” while others require that all women seeking advanced screening technology be covered by insurance, reports Women in Government. A survey of US parents showed that 80 percent of them would willingly have their daughters vaccinated in order to prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer later in their lives, according to the New Scientist.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .