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Mexican Department of Public Health to Launch Screening for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Cause of Cervical Cancer
Date:11/19/2008

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, November 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a campaign to significantly reduce the most common cancer affecting Mexican women, the Mexican Public Health Agency (Secretaria de Salud or SSA) has announced it is launching the first phase of a program that will offer testing for human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, to low-income women age 35-65. The cost of the testing will be covered by the agency. In the first phase of the screening program, which is beginning this month, more than 200,000 women in the lowest-income 125 counties are being offered the papillomavirus test along with the traditional Pap smear. In 2009, the pilot program will be expanded to include another 600,000 women in the 20 states with the highest death rate from cervical cancer.

Since taking office, President Felipe Calderon has made reducing health inequalities in Mexico a top priority for his administration. Cervical cancer is a major focus of this campaign, since so many Mexican women are affected - more than 12,000 a year. One of the national initiatives to date has been coordination among the social, private and public sectors to increase the efficiency and efficacy of cervical cancer prevention by modifying the Official Mexican Norm (NOM-014-SSA2-1994) for the disease. The changes are designed to better facilitate the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer among the most vulnerable women through public education and use of the most advanced, effective technologies for screening - including the HPV test.

Infection with the papillomavirus is very common. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 11 percent of Mexican women carry cervical HPV at any given time.

"As in many countries, cervical cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Mexican women between the ages of 15-44. Every year, more than 12,000 Mexican women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and ne
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