(Image: Zef Delgadillo under CC 3.0)
Poorer girls are not getting a vaccine that would save their lives because they can’t afford it.
Mississippi and Arkansas, two of the nation’s poorest states, also have the highest death rates from cervical cancer. The reason is many girls who live in both states don’t have affordable medical insurance, and as a result don’t receive health screenings, and basic care.
The cancer prevention vaccine, Gardasil, is administered a lot more frequently in wealthier states, and the impact is quite evident. In the wealthier state of Rhode Island, cervical cancer mortality is half as high as in Mississippi and Arkansas, 55% of girls received Gardasil.
The only hope for improving such inequalities is in the government. Congressional leaders are slated to vote on a health bill this weekend. If passed, the government will cover the cost of insurance for millions of people without good health coverage.