CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A South Carolina state representative is proposing a bill requiring the Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer a vaccine and education materials on the human papillomavirus to seventh-grade students across the state.
District 90 Respresentative Bakari Sellers, who represents Orangeburg County, believes DHEC should be tasked with providing relief and information on HPV, the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the country that significantly increases the risk of cervical cancer in women.
Governor Nikki Haley vetoed a similar bill proposed by Sellers last year, saying it created a program with setting aside funding for it.
In 2007, Haley backed another bill that would have required HPV vaccines for any students entering seventh grade. That bill was opposed by the South Carolina Baptist Association for not offering an "opt out" for students who didn't want to be vaccinated.
Haley ended up voting against that bill also, citing concerns over the options of students.
Sellers is set to announce the new bill at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina in downtown Charleston.
"One thing that I want everyone to understand is that the cost of someone who actually gets cervical cancer when it could have been prevented at an early age is draining. It's a cost that everyone in the community has to bear," stated Sellers, "In no way is it mandatory or in no way is it making parents go and get the vaccine."
South Carolina ranks ninth in the nation for estimated deaths from cervical cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.