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The HPV Vaccine, Your Blood Pressure, and Rising Co-pays.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 8, 2007

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Thanks to Virginia, BlogHer’s resident technology editor, I recently learned how to use a “feed reader”, also know as RSS. Don’t laugh, I know I’m a bit behind the times. I like having so much information in one place, but it can be a little overwhelming as well.

This week I noticed there was a lot of women’s health issues in the news. So I thought I would use this post to touch on a few of them.

Since September is “Healthy Aging Month“, let’s start with the growing problem many of our seniors are facing, in trying to afford their prescription medications. It seems seniors are having to make financial decisions to not buy medications, especially when they have higher co-pays. Here is an excerpt from High Co-Pays Cause Seniors to go Without Meds.

The data highlights a tough decision for older Americans: Spend more or skip some of their medicines, including those for chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Consumers are sensitive to price. When they have to pay more, they tend to consume less,” senior researcher Boyd Gilman said in a prepared statement.

This isn’t a new problem, but it is a problem that is becoming worse with the rise in prescription co-pays. And, it’s not just a problem for seniors anymore, many people (especially single mothers) are facing the dilemma of whether to buy groceries for their family, or their medications…A decision none of us should ever have to make, but many of us will have to.

With heart disease a leading cause of death in women, non-compliance with blood pressure medications can have deadly results. Even when people can afford their blood pressure medications, many stop taking them because they feel better and believe they are “cured”.

A major problem for controlling blood pressure is that people will often stop their medication once their blood pressure levels are healthy, according to a new report. Blood pressure is not cured and people with hypertension need to constantly track their readings.

Find information about monitoring your blood pressure here.

Then, there is still controversy surrounding the HPV Vaccine. I’ve written about this a few times before at “Gardasil – The Three Faces of the HPV Vaccine“. My voice of opposition has been barely noticeable, especially in comparison to the multi-million dollar advertising “bullhorn” of the Merck pharmaceutical company. So, it was nice to come across this article, written by someone who actually shares my thoughts on the subject.

A little more than a year ago, the nation’s first vaccine against some human papillomavirus (HPV) infections was released. This medical progress against cervical cancer got swept up by fear-based marketing that helped to generate premature calls for government mandates.

“You could become one less life affected by cervical cancer” is the mantra in most of Merck’s ads for its vaccine, called Gardasil. The ubiquitous marketing campaign may leave viewers thinking that cervical cancer is more prevalent than it really is.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict a 22 percent to 60 percent reduction in cervical cancer attributable to this vaccine. However, for these reductions to be realized, a high proportion of young women will have to be vaccinated. Even then, reductions in invasive cervical cancer won’t be measurable for several decades.

If there’s one thing the discussions make clear, it’s that we need to try harder on Pap tests. Cervical cancer used to be a leading cause of cancer deaths among U.S. women. But since the introduction of the Pap smear in the 1940s, those deaths have dropped about 75 percent, even as the population has grown. — read full article

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you have an opinion about one of these topics, I hope you’ll leave me a comment.

(cross-posted at BlogHer)

UPDATED: Comment from BlogHer post about the HPV vaccine, you can see it here. This was my response…

 

Hi Amy, thanks for your comment.

You make a lot of great points. But, my problem with the HPV vaccine has nothing to do with “special interest groups”. It’s just personal observation, and an understanding of the facts surrounding deaths from cervical cancer.

I believe the HPV vaccine is very important, especially for third world countries where the incidence of death from cervical cancer is much higher than it is here. This is what the American Cancer Society says…

 

 

In many developing countries, cervical cancer is the major cause of cancer deaths in women. This is largely because they do not have access to Pap tests.

And in our own country…

Socioeconomic and Ethnic Factors

 

 

Although the rate of cervical cancer has declined in both Caucasian and African American women over the past decades, it remains much more prevalent in African Americans and their death rates are twice as high as Caucasian women. Hispanic American women have more than twice the risk of invasive cervical cancer as Caucasian women also due to a lower rate of screening.

 

 

These differences, however, are almost certainly due to social and economic differences. Numerous studies report that high poverty levels are linked with low screening rates. In addition, lack of health insurance, limited transportation, and language difficulties hinder poor womens access to screening services. Researchers are investigating programs that provide screening and treatment for women with abnormal Pap smears in a single visit. A 2001 study of women in the military found no differences in mortality rates when there is equal access to the same treatments.

In the United States, the only deaths caused by cervical cancer are in women who never had a pap test (and those are often of low-income). Unlike many other forms of cancer, cervical cancer is almost always caught early enough for successful treatment. Even though HPV virus is prevalent here, the majority of HPV viruses will clear totally on their own or with treatment. It is only very, very, very few that will ever develop into cancer.

From the HPV Forum

 

 

While HPV infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer, in reality it is very rare for HPV infection to progress to cancer with proper treatment. 60 to 80 % of CIN 1 dysplasias resolve on their own, and only about 1% of cases progress to invasive cervical cancer.

That’s why the “one less” campaign really gets under my skin…the only way to guarantee that you will be “one less”, is by getting pap tests (with or without this vaccine, it is possible to be “one less”, GET A PAP TEST).

 

 

But there are ways to help all women in this country get the testing they need. A program called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides testing to women without health insurance for free or at very little cost. Each state’s Department of Health will have information on how to find out about this program.

So what I am saying is…This vaccine has it’s benefits, and is a great breakthrough in medical and pharmaceutical research. But, the United States should weight greatly the need for this vaccine to be made mandatory. Parents should be given the “facts” not just the “fears”, and make educated decisions about whether they get this vaccine for their child.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at Women 4 Hope and Informed Voters

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4 Responses to “The HPV Vaccine, Your Blood Pressure, and Rising Co-pays.”

  1. I am really enjoying catching up with your thoughts today! Nothing to share, but I’m here lurking…. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  2. Lurck away.

  3. Just checking in to see how your weight loss journey is going.

  4. I have to admit, I’ve been sick ever since I have returned from Chicago…and all I have been doing is eating junk and/or fast food. When I’m sick I just don’t have the strength to cook the foods that I know I should be eating, I just want to do what ever is the easiest thing to do. I was weighed at the doctors the other day, and I did gain a few pounds, but I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. But, thanks for your gentle reminder that I should get back on track with my healthy eating. I also found out at the doctors that my blood pressure is extremely high again, and I know that would be a lot better if I stop eating the salty/junkie foods that I have been.

    Thanks for checking, hopefully next time you check on me, I will be doing better. So, how are you?

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