HPV Serious Business

RECEIVED Wed., July 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    As a cervical cancer survivor, I want to thank the Chronicle staff for your efforts to educate the public about human papillomavirus, this relatively unknown, yet potentially life-threatening virus (“Fight Against Cervical Cancer Advances,” News, July 7). HPV is a sleeping giant – sexually active women everywhere must become more fully educated about the dangers of HPV. Why? Because no one is really talking about it, yet HPV is the second-leading cause of death in women worldwide.
    Only through detection of abnormal cells during my annual gynecological exam did I learn that I had HPV, then even more shocking, I learned I had cervical cancer. I had never heard of HPV before and had no idea what it was – boy, do I know all about it now!
    Unfortunately, the FDA's approval of the new vaccine Gardasil will not help the millions of women around the world whose lives have been changed forever by HPV, like mine has. It is absolutely crucial for every sexually active woman, especially those who are in their child-bearing years, 1) to have an annual gynecological exam, 2) to demand to be tested for HPV, 3) to ask her gynecologist for information about HPV and 4) to educate herself so that she can protect herself before it is too late because the birthright of motherhood can be stripped away from her without warning.
    HPV is serious business. For prevention's sake, we must keep talking about HPV and educating the Austin community.
Kerry Manning
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