KCUR News
3:48 pm
Fri January 22, 2010

Area Senator Introduces HPV Education Bill

Kansas City, Mo. – A Kansas City Senator has filed a bill to give Missouri parents information on human papillomavirus and the HPV vaccine.

Democratic Senator Jolie Justus introduced the legislation. It calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to send parents of sixth graders information on HPV, related screenings, and the availability of a vaccine.

Justus says this information's important because the virus is strongly believed to cause most forms of cervical cancer.

"If we are able to vaccinate for HPV, then there's a very clear possibility that we could eliminate one cause of cancer that is killing up to 4,000 women a year," Justus said.

Justus says the bill only provides information, and that the decision about whether or not to get the vaccine is up to families.

During the last three sessions, similar legislation passed the Senate but not the House. In those versions, the state would have also provided funding for the vaccine if people were unable to obtain it through their insurance or at clinics which offer it for free. A House amendment to the bill last year also banned public funding to places that administer the vaccine and also provide abortions. The current bill focuses only on HPV education, not vaccine funding.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with at least half of sexually active people getting it at some point in their lives. It usually doesn't cause symptoms or health problems, but some strains can cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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