Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 17, 2007–Merck & Co., Inc. today joined Celebra La Vida Con Salud, one of the largest national Hispanic health education campaigns, in a Hispanic community outreach effort to educate women about cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV). While Hispanics represent approximately 14% of the current US population, they suffer disproportionately high rates of several preventable illnesses and diseases. The rate of cervical cancer is approximately 50% higher among Hispanic women than among non-Hispanic white women in the United States.
According to one of the most comprehensive studies of HPV prevalence, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
— One in four US women age 14 to 59 is infected with HPV, or 26.6%.
— Women aged 20 to 24 had the highest overall HPV prevalence in the study, 44.8%.
— Cervical cancer will be diagnosed in an estimated 11,150 women this year, and about 3,670 will die from it.
“We are very excited to add these important health issues to our campaign and bring this much needed information about HPV and cervical cancer to the Hispanic men and women we reach through Celebra,” said Carmen Ramos-Watson, Executive Director of Celebra La Vida Con Salud. “We know Latinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer at disproportionate rates. Through this joint effort we will be able to provide culturally competent information to Latinas about HPV, cervical cancer and resources available to them to help prevent these illnesses.”
Now in its sixth year, Celebra uses a culturally relevant approach to raise awareness among Hispanics about illness prevention through its on-the-ground health festival tour, radio, television, online health education, and on-going community outreach efforts.
Celebra recently launched a 12-city health festival tour that offers free medical screenings, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and HIV/AIDs for all participants. Public, private sector, and community-based organizations are participating in the festivals, which began in San Diego on April 21st. Other cities in the health festival tour include Phoenix, San Antonio, Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and San Francisco.
“We are pleased to sponsor the disease education efforts of Celebra La Vida Con Salud. Our involvement is the continuation of Merck’s commitment to broad public education initiatives that reach women of all backgrounds in a meaningful and memorable way,” said Bev Lybrand, Vice President and General Manager, HPV Franchise, Merck Vaccines. “We hope women attending the festival will come away with a better understanding of cervical cancer and HPV, as well as feel empowered to take preventive actions. Their attention to this disease will go a long way in reducing the burden of cervical cancer.”
The cervical cancer and HPV education exhibit at the Celebra health festivals will provide an opportunity for women to learn about the causes of cervical cancer and HPV.
“We provide this health information in a festive atmosphere because it is part of our culture to celebrate,” said Ramos-Watson. “We want all Hispanics to have the benefit of information about the illnesses that could affect them, to learn steps they can take to prevent them, and more importantly to take action that will impact their health and that of their families in a positive way.”