Common sense public health legislation overcomes years of legislative roadblocks

COLUMBIA, SC-- H.3204, the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, was signed into law today with bipartisan support from the South Carolina legislature. Similar bills have been introduced every legislative session since 2011 but none received final approval from the Legislature and Governor until today. The success of H. 3204 is thanks to the tireless work of legislative champions and public health advocates to ensure that all stakeholders understand the necessity of this bill to protect the long-term health of South Carolina’s young people.

This common-sense law will allow parents access information about HPV and the HPV vaccine by providing educational materials about the vaccine to families, as well as make the vaccine available to middle school students with parental permission. The HPV vaccine is very safe and, if provided early enough, the vaccine can prevent up to 90% of cases of cervical cancer.

"Detecting and preventing cancer is an essential part of ensuring that all women lead safe, healthy lives," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Today, elected officials of both parties in South Carolina came together to bring that one step closer to reality. This bill enacts common sense public policy that will help prevent cancer for South Carolina women. With widespread public support, its success represents a step forward in providing the full range of reproductive health care in South Carolina. This is an example of public officials embracing proven public health policy, something we don’t see enough of these days. We hope other states follow suit to expand access to care that helps prevent cancer, keeping women and families healthy.”

South Carolina currently ranks seventh in the nation for cervical cancer mortality. HPV is an extremely common STI- so common that 1 in 2 sexually-active people have HPV although many may not know it. HPV is also the leading cause of cervical cancer. To be most effective, the HPV vaccine should be provided before exposure which is why the CDC and FDA recommend that young people ages 11-12 receive the vaccine.

“At Planned Parenthood our top priority is to ensure that all people have access to the health care services they need to lead healthy lives,” said Alyssa Miller, SC Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “The HPV vaccine today is cancer prevention for tomorrow. We applaud state leaders for recognizing the important impact that this vaccine will have on the long-term health of our state’s citizens.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic joined legislators, community partners and other health care professionals in praising the passage H. 3204. The law goes into effect today with information and access to the vaccine for students and their families in the 2016-2017 school year.