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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Company Testing Vaccine Against Cervical Cancer

June 18, 1998
USA Today (06/18/98) P. 6D

Merck & Co. is currently conducting early stage clinical tests of a vaccine against cervical cancer in women to ensure that the drug is safe enough to be used in a larger study. While it is too early to determine if the vaccine will work, Merck's lead scientist, Kathrin Jansen, said the vaccine seemed highly effective in animal studies. Merck's goal is immunizing girls at about age10 before they become sexually active and increase their risk of contracting human papilloma virus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease. Although HPV is often harmless to a majority of people, a small percentage of the women infected with the virus contract a dangerous strain that causes cervical cancer, which kills 5,000 Americans annually, according to the American Cancer Society.

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