Researchers have produced an experimental vaccine that is 100 percent effective in preventing two types of cervical cancer caused by a sexually-transmitted virus, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., Inc., announced on Thursday.

Over 12,000 women aged 16 to 26 in 13 different countries participated in the study of the Gardasil vaccine. The vaccine targets human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts.

The women, none of whom were previously infected with HPV, were separated into two groups in which they received either a three-dose vaccine regimen or a placebo and were followed for an average of two years following enrollment. Among the women who received the vaccine, none developed pre-cancerous lesions or cancer cells, while 21 women among the placebo group did.

“This is very powerful evidence that a vaccine can actually prevent cervical cancer,” said Carol Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 10,500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and another 3,700 will die from the disease this year.

Other News to Cheer This Week:

  • The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would reauthorize funding for a 1994 law aimed at preventing and prosecuting cases of domestic violence and assisting victims of abuse. The Violence Against Women Act keeps its focus on law enforcement but broadens its scope to include some new services, such as programs that would focus on Native Americans, immigrants and rural residents. The law stiffens penalties for repeat offenders, increases funding and helps break the cycle of violence through education, said Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., the bill’s sponsor.

    A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last week. The legislation now moves to conference committee, where House and Senate negotiators will iron out differences between the two versions.

    Among those who lobbied for the reauthorization of the act were Mary Kay independent beauty consultants, whose personal contributions totaled $3 million for domestic violence shelters and safe houses throughout the nation in support of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 1 to 31.

  • U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton admonished the U.S. Small Business Administration last week for its continuing failure to meet a 1994 requirement that the agency procure 5 percent of its purchases from women-owned businesses. The 1994 law was reiterated in 2000 to expand opportunities for women business owners in industries that have historically been closed to them, according to the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. The agency must report back in 45 days on how they are working to meet the standard.
  • Eleven Nigerian police officers who served as United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo were suspended from duty as the U.N. investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of that country’s women and girls continues, the Feminist Daily News Wire reported on Tuesday. Nigeria withdrew its 120-member peacekeeping force from Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, in mid-September after the U.N. investigation began.


A Veteran Affairs Department survey from 2002 to 2003 released this week by Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., found that almost 60 percent of women and 27 percent of men serving in the National Guard and military reserves have experienced sexual harassment or assault, the Washington Post reported.

The report, based upon phone interviews with 4,000 former reservists who served from 1950-2000, determined that 11 percent of women and 1.2 percent of men in the National Guard or reserves experienced rape or attempted rape. Perpetrated mostly by military personnel, over half of the incidents took place on military sites during duty hours. Less than 19 percent of the reservists said they had received help for the trauma and less than 2 percent sought help from the VA.

The project’s coordinator, Jane Stafford, who is no longer a VA employee, said the rates “are consistent with active-duty populations” which are higher than civilian rates, the Post reported.

Other News to Jeer This Week:

  • The editor-in-chief of an Afghan women’s magazine, Women’s Rights, was arrested last Saturday and accused of publishing articles that criticize Islam, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Ali Mohaqiq Nasab was arrested on the order of a religious adviser to that country’s president, Western-backed Hamid Karzai. He was held for questioning the harsh punishment meted by the traditional Islamic law known as Sharia.
  • Former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett advised the listeners of his syndicated “Morning in America” radio show that by aborting “every black baby” in the United States, crime rates would drop. “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could. If that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down,” he said.

    Ronald Reagan’s presidency ushered in the control of the Republican Party by the anti-abortion wing.

— Allison Stevens contributed to this report.

Karen James is a Women’s eNews intern and master’s candidate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief for Women’s eNews.