The executive director of the Anal Cancer Foundation, Justine Almada, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill. Her mission was clear: to advocate for an HPV Cancer Awareness Campaign and secure more funding for anal cancer and the other cancers caused by HPV.
The Anal Cancer Foundation has been at the forefront of raising awareness about anal cancer and advocating for policies that help eradicate the disease. Over 90% of anal cancers are caused by HPV, a virus that nearly all people have in their lifetime. In addition, HPV causes precancer, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis in children, and at least five other cancers.
Nearly 10,000 anal cancer cases and 46,000 HPV cancers are diagnosed in the US annually -- numbers that are increasing every year. Yet, despite this alarming statistic, there is still a lack of public awareness about these diseases and a lack of resources dedicated to fighting them.
Justine met with several members of Congress to discuss the need for an HPV Cancer Awareness Campaign. The focus of the meetings was to educate lawmakers about HPV and the cancers it causes—and ask congressional leaders to support robust funding for HPV prevention and awareness. The campaign would focus on raising awareness about the experience of HPV cancers, educating the public about the dangers of HPV, and promoting the importance of prevention through HPV vaccination and screening. Justine shared stories of patients who have battled anal cancer and the challenges they face in getting the care they need. She emphasized the importance of investing in funding that could eradicate the disease. ACF believes that an awareness campaign could make a significant impact by elevating the voices of people affected by HPV cancers, bringing more resources to the cause, and reducing the incidence of HPV cancer in the United States.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Florida will soon reintroduce the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act. This legislation would create a national awareness campaign, give states additional resources to improve their immunization information systems, and expand funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection initiative. We encourage you to ask your member of Congress to support this bill and help us eliminate anal Cancer and the other conditions caused by HPV.
Justine was joined by fellow advocates and people affected by HPV. They included anal cancer thriver and activist Marcia Cross and representatives from Moffit Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Cancer Center, HPV Cancers Alliance, Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis Foundation, and CCAP Across the Map. A special thank you to the HPV Cancers Alliance for leading the organization of the day.
The meetings were productive, and the positive response from lawmakers heartened Justine. The foundation's advocacy efforts are making a difference as more people become aware of the need to prioritize HPV cancer prevention and treatment.
The Anal Cancer Foundation will continue to advocate for action to fund an HPV Cancer Awareness Campaign, allocate more resources to fight the disease, and ensure that HPV cancer and anal cancer are recognized as priority health concerns.