Wiping Out Cervical Cancer

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Gynecologist Dr. Thomas Petroff says 60 to 80 percent of his patients under the age of 35, who are sexually active have contracted the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus. And it's the same statistic for other gynecologists offices across the country.

"The virus is kind of weird and it can be around and dormant for years before a woman even knows she has it or a man for that matter."

But those high percentages mean an increase in the number of cases of cervical cancer. Because HPV is the leading cause of the disease. That's why the Governor's Task Force on Cervical Cancer is now focused on wiping out the illness through education, prevention, and early detection.

Lt. Governor John Cherry says, "To develop wide, broad public awareness, we got to just keep beating the drum and reminding people."

According to Michigan Surgeon General Kimberlydawn Wisdom, "The number one primary risk factor is exposure to HPV. So if you're protected and limit yourself to being exposed to HPV, that's the best way to prevent cervical cancer."

"If you go get a pap smear and get screened every year, if you follow those recommendations, you have a really good chance of getting rid of it, " explains Sen. Deborah Cherry, D-Oakland.

And all of the initiatives says, Wisdom, offer hope to future generations.

"It's not unrealistic to think that perhaps in our lifetime or not much longer thereafter, that cervical cancer can actually be eradicated."