Thursday, September 29, 2011
Get the facts on the HPV vaccine

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There is an old joke that goes: How do you know a politician is lying? Their lips are moving. We recently had an example of this in the Republican political campaign. One of the candidates came up with a statement that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. I guess one can say that she was not really lying. She simply had no clue what she was talking about. The problem is that there are people who took her at her word. They assumed that since she is in a position of importance, she must know what she is talking about. Unfortunately, the two do not go together. Politicians need to stick to politics. When they start quoting medical opinions like they are facts, they need to realize the potential harm they can cause. We know that the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer which kills 4,000 women a year in the United States alone. I wonder what the response of the politician would be to the families of women who die from cervical cancer, if they will take her advice to avoid the vaccine. I suspect that unless they are people who will vote for her, she does not care. Here are some of the real facts: HPV is a common infection. At least 75% of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives. HPV is most common in young women and men who are in their late teens and early 20s. The infections are frequently without symptoms. Most women and men do not know when they are infected with HPV. An abnormal Pap test result may be a womans first clue. However, most HPV-infected women may not even have an abnormal Pap test result. HPV is a family of very common viruses that cause almost all cervical cancers. They also cause other things. These include genital warts and other types of genital cancers. The most common cancer-causing types of the virus are 16 and 18. These two types alone cause about 70% of all cervical cancer. The current cervical cancer vaccines protect nearly 100% against these two types of HPV. That is true when given in the full three dose series. They need to be given on time and in the routinely recommended age groups. Unfortunately, there are over 35 known different HPV types that infect the genital tract. At least 15 of these can lead to cervical cancer. The vaccines do not protect against all of these types. This is why even women who have the vaccine continue to need Pap smears. The way to be sure a woman is protected is to give the vaccine at an early enough age to be sure there has been no sexual activity which is why it is recommended in young girls. It is too bad that the political candidate did not include all of these facts with the one statement she did make. However, that would imply that she had some knowledge of what she was talking about which she clearly did not. It would be interesting to see if she got any smarter if she was elected President.

RMD House celebrates anniversary The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware is celebrating its 20th year of providing a nurturing and supportive home away from home for families of sick and injured children receiving care at area hospitals. In honor of this milestone, Ronald McDonald will host the Red Shoe Affair benefit with dinner, live music and dancing on the evening of Friday, Sept. 30. The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware opened its doors in 1991 with 17 guest rooms. Today, it has grown to serve 50 families every night. The House also operates Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at Bayhealth Medical Center, Christiana Care and Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children to provide a respite space away from the childs hospital bedside. Since 1991, more than 25,000 families have walked through its doors seeking rest and comfort as they cope with the stress of having a child hospitalized. Over 36% percent of the Houses public support comes from individual donors living right here in Delaware. Each year we count on our special events to provide more than 20 percent or our operating budget, says Anne Wright, president of the board of directors. The Red Shoe Affair benefit for the House will take place on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m., at the Barclays Bank building on the Wilmington Riverfront. For more information, contact Dawn Brooks at 302-428-5330 or

Blood donations increase 20% The 9th annual Summer Blood Challenge (SBC), a competition among local employers to recruit the most Blood Bank members and donors during the summer, just ended on Sept. 11 and has had record-breaking results. This year, 186 local employers participated in the competition, bringing in 8,611 blood donations and 1,691 new Blood Bank members.Thats a blood donation increase of 20% over last years SBC. Because of the summer competition and a high level of support from local employers, Blood Bank of Delmarva has been able to avoid serious summer blood shortages that often affect other areas of the country. Top employers and donors will be honored on Sept. 27 and 28 at awards parties in Newark at the Deerfield Country Club and in Salisbury at The Fountains. 17-year-old Lee Lee Jones of Delmar will be the featured speaker at both events.Lee Lee credits blood donors for giving her a second chance at life after she was involved in a near-fatal car accident last summer.She lost more than a third of her blood volume before she was airlifted to the hospital, and it took multiple surgeries and blood transfusions to save her life. Lee Lee and her family will share their story and thank SBC participants for their commitment to the cause. Winners in the competitions Grand Prize Giveaway will also be named at the awards parties.Seven SBC participants have been randomly selected as finalists and have been invited to the Awards Parties to find out what theyve won. Prizes include Fusion Fitness Gift Packs, two NASCAR tickets to the October race in Dover, a $500 VISA gift card, a trip for two to New York City and an Alaskan Cruise.

Storm debris washing ashore Not 24 hours after last Saturdays Delaware Coastal Cleanup, several of the states coastal communities reported that debris, mostly plastic but also found to include medical waste such as sharps (disposable syringes), had begun washing ashore in large quantities. Debris continued to reach the coast a few days later at Slaughter and Broadkill Beaches, and was reported at other sites too. The trash is believed to be following a southerly flow pattern that began last Sunday and is attributable to recent heavy rainfall that led to flooding, as well as the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. DNREC has begun assisting volunteers by providing resources for bagging and removing the debris, and will continue monitoring the situation. Anyone who goes out on the beaches or the coast to pick up trash should wear gloves and be alert for medical waste or other potentially hazardous materials which should not be handled. Any discovery of these items should be reported to DNRECs environmental protection officers through the 24-hour toll-free emergency response line: 1-800-662-8802.

Strides Against Breast Cancer walk The 2nd Annual Sussex County Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Owens Campus of Delaware Tech Community College, Georgetown. The event is a 5K (3.1 miles) walk, and will also include a 5K run component, which is competitive. Individuals of all ages are welcome to participate. Registration opens at 7 a.m., race begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 9 a.m. A registration fee is required for runners. There is no fee required to participate in the walk; however, fundraising is encouraged. This is your opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and raise funds and awareness to help eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. Last year, the inaugural event was a huge success. Over 700 people participated raising in excess of $50,000 towards the fight against breast cancer. For more information or to become involved in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Sussex County, visit or call 1-800-937-9696.

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgangs office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

Hospice hosts conference Delaware Hospices Family Support Center will hold a professional conference, Peace at Last:A Warriors Journey from Wartime to End-of-Life, with national speaker and author Deborah Grassman, RN, MS, NP, on Friday, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Deborah Grassman has been a nurse practitioner with the Veterans Administration for 26 years and director of the VA Hospice Program for 15 years.She pioneered the identification of post-trauma effects on the quality of a persons dying process, as well as ways to effectively respond to issues that surface at the end-of-life. Registration fee is $99 per person and $75 per student. Seats are limited, so early registration is recommended. Application has been made for 6.0-7.5 contact hours for nurses, social workers, counselors, nursing home administrators and funeral home services. For more information or reservations, contact Vicki Costa, 478-5707, ext. 1129 or

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospices New Beginnings bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program.The location rotates each week of the month throughout Sussex County. New Beginnings luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Diabetes Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a free diabetes support group on Monday, Oct. 17 from 5 to 6 p.m., at the hospital. If you have diabetes, are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would you just like to share with others coping with diabetes? Come join our free support group for individuals with diabetes. Clara Dewey, LPTA, physical therapy assistant, will speak about Exercise and Diabetes on Oct. 17. There will also be a question and answer period. Registration is required. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.