Kathy Castor Gets PREVENT HPV Cancers Act Through the House

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., was able to get her “Promoting Resources to Expand Vaccination, Education and New Treatments for HPV (PREVENT HPV) Cancers Act” through the U.S. House.

The House passed the bill on a voice vote held on Tuesday.

With U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., backing the proposal, Castor introduced the bill back in March.

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes six types of cancers, which leads to nearly 36,000 cases of cancer each year in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) We have a vaccine that can help prevent these cancers, and it’s the goal of the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act to increase vaccination rates with an eye towards health equity. In fact, the World Health Organization established a goal of total eradication of cervical cancer last year due to the highly effective HPV vaccine and commitment by countries around the world,” Castor’s office noted.

“After learning six years ago that Florida and the Tampa Bay area have some of the worst HPV vaccination rates in the country, I joined forces with Moffitt Cancer Center, Dr. Anna Giuliano and USF College of Public Health to improve vaccination rates, increase public knowledge and save lives,” said Castor.

“It’s clear that we can do better across America as well, so together with Rep. Schrier, a pediatrician, 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,” Castor added. “Americans are dying from 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. Working with local leaders like Moffitt and USF as well as the National Cancer Institute and CDC, I’m confident we can increase health equity and positive outcomes through public education and research.”

“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. I am proud to support Rep. Castor in this effort,” said Schrier.

“The science has been clear for years – we have the tools to eliminate HPV-related cancers globally, starting with cervical cancer. Rep Castor has had a long-standing collaboration with us at the Moffitt Cancer Center in promoting interventions to prevent HPV cancers. We are so excited to see that Rep Castor has accelerated her commitment to this cause with the filing of the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act of 2021 which will save tens of thousands of US lives per year,” said Dr. Anna Giuliano, the director of the Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer (CIIRC) at the Moffitt Cancer Center.

“Rep Castor’s PREVENT HPV Cancers Act will help educate and protect boys and girls from HPV preventable cancers. Through her bill, hopefully, other parents will never have to make videos to their kids saying goodbye, as I did when first diagnosed with HPV-related tonsil cancer at age 44,” said Jason Mendelsohn, the founder of SupermanHPV and an HPV cancer survivor.

“This bill is exactly what is needed to help eliminate HPV-related cancers. 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,” said Tamika Felder, the founder of Cervivor, Inc. and a cervical cancer survivor.

“If Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH, called a press conference today and announced that we had found a cure for cancer, there would be cause for celebration. Well, since 2006, there’s been a safe and effective vaccine that prevents six types of cancer, including cervical cancer and throat cancer. It’s been a remarkable development, and with today’s passage of the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act, we will equip communities across the country will the tools they need to vaccinate, educate and empower our neighbors to receive these lifesaving vaccinations. According to data from the CDC, more than one million doses of HPV vaccinations were missed last year. This falling off is worrisome, but we can tackle this problem by helping educate families and parents all across America to avoid these catastrophic diagnoses and save lives in doing it,” Castor said after her bill cleared the House.

“The PREVENT HPV Cancers Act builds on work the CDC is already doing to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers through Johanna’s Law, and includes HPV and HPV-related cancers in a national public awareness campaign to educate providers, parents, and the general public about the life saving HPV vaccine. This is especially important in rural areas where there’s also been a very dramatic drop off. I want to thank my friends back home at the Moffitt Cancer Center, including, Dr. Anna Giuliano, for educating me and for bringing together advocates across the country, and Rep. Schrier, a pediatrician, for her support for this legislation. I’m confident we can increase health equity and positive outcomes through public education and research, and I’m now calling on my Senate colleagues to take up and pass this critical legislation,” added Castor.

So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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