Editorial: USHIP Coverage Should Include Life-Saving Vaccine

    You can now be vaccinated against cancer. A vaccine developed against the strains of human papillomavirus that cause an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancer cases (and 90 percent of genital warts) will protect many women from this deadly condition. Although the vaccine does not protect against all of the harmful strains of HPV, it targets the most common. Given this life-saving discovery, UCSD will do everything it can to make the vaccine as accessible to students as possible — right?

    Student Health Services carries the vaccine, which costs $375 for three injections. It is not currently covered by UCSD’s Student Health Insurance Plan, since the federal Food and Drug Administration only approved the vaccine in June. According to Debbie Pino-Saballett, the director of health information for SHS, the Student Health Insurance Committee will examine a cost-benefit analysis of the vaccine and determine if it should receive S.H.I.P. coverage.

    HPV is an extremely common virus easily contracted through sexual contact and, since it can affect areas that condoms do not cover, the vaccine is easily the most effective way to prevent transmission, especially since the highest-risk strains generally show no symptoms before an abnormal Pap smear result.

    The FDA recommended that the vaccine be given to girls and women nine to 26 years of age. Most of UCSD’s undergraduates — all of whom would clearly benefit from receiving the vaccine as part of the university health insurance plan — fall within that range. Why shouldn’t the plan cover a vaccine that could save a student’s life for only $375? This board does not have an answer. A committee interested in protecting the best interests of students would surely approve covering the vaccine.

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