Schools across Wisconsin could soon be required to provide information about the human papillomavirus and the availability of a vaccine. HPV is believed to be the leading cause of cervical cancer, and the CDC is advocating the use of a vaccine to help prevent its spread.
Pediatrician Dr. James Conway says the vaccine needs to be available early on, when it can be most effective. Conway says many children become sexually active early on, and it loses its effectiveness once a strain of HPV is contracted.
Conway testified at the Capitol Wednesday on legislation requiring schools to tell parents of students in grades 6 thru 12 about HPV and the vaccine's availability. He says providing that information can empower parents and children about what they can do to help prevent HPV and cervical cancer.
The bill is a step back from an earlier effort from State Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), which would have mandated giving the vaccine to young girls. Taylor says she backed off that approach after realizing many people didn't even understand that basic risks of HPV and cervical cancer, which kills about 4,000 women each year. The Milwaukee Democrat says the current bill will help arm young women with critical information.
Opponents of the measure argue the effects of the vaccine aren't fully known and worry advocating its use could give girls a false sense of protection against sexually transmitted infections.
The bill is currently being considered by an Assembly committee.