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Monday, February 4, 2019

Another reason why more HPV vaccination is needed

Kelly Macias  Daily Kos Staff

Related imageJanuary is Cervical Health Awareness month. 

In order to bring attention to the importance of cervical cancer screenings and access to reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood’s new president, Dr. Leana Wen, is sharing her own story of being diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer for the first time.

In an article for Self, Wen explains that she was just 27 years old when she was diagnosed after a routine exam.

She credits “access to routine screening, safe and effective surgery, and close monitoring” as the reasons that she is healthy and cancer-free today, and the mother of a 17-month-old son.

As Wen reminds us, it is routine cervical cancer screenings that save the lives of thousands of women each year.

That’s why it is so vital that we have organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide access to a range of reproductive health services, including cervical cancer screenings, especially for those patients who need them at reduced cost.

But there are still important economic and racial reproductive health disparities that impact women of color and poor women that need to be addressed.

Writes Wen, “More than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year, including a disproportionate amount of women of color. 

Black and Hispanic women are diagnosed with cervical cancer at higher rates than white women are, and they are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage, making it harder to treat.”

Women of color are also more likely to be uninsured or underinsured, which prevents access to quality health care. This is at near-crisis levels in America. 

In addition to black and Hispanic women having higher rates of cervical cancer, the U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world, with black women four times more likely than the average American woman to die from pregnancy complications.

In an era of increasing racial and economic inequality, expanding access to reproductive health services is important—now more than ever.

This has only worsened under Donald Trump’s presidency. Over the last two years, the Trump administration has waged an all-out war on reproductive rights.

In November, the administration proposed changes to the federal Title X family planning program, essentially blocking the availability of federal funds to family-planning providers that also provide abortion services.

In their maniacal quest to prevent access to abortions, the administration is also endangering the lives of people in need of cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, and other kinds of reproductive health needs. 

Thanks to Dr. Wen’s story, as well as the other millions of stories that are being shared, we can see first-hand how important it is that patients around the country have access to quality, affordable reproductive health care. As Dr. Wen notes, no one should die of cervical cancer because they lack access