America Ferrera, Star of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Continues Nationwide Cervical Cancer

From: Merck & Co., Inc
Published: Sat Oct 15 2005

Dallas, TX/October 14, 2005/FPSnewswire/- "Cervical cancer is diagnosed in thousands of women in the U.S. each year, but it doesn't have to be this way as long as women know the facts." That's the message actress America Ferrera, best known for her role in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will bring to Dallas on Friday, October 14, 4:00 pm at Dallas' Irving Mall. Ferrera and Melissa Cody, women's health nurse practitioner with U.S. Oncology/Texas Oncology will be at Dallas' Irving Mall to talk about cervical cancer and also invite participants to share in a productive Make the Connection beading activity. Both Ferrera and Cody are supporting the Make the Connection campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer and its cause, a common virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Make the Connection is a public education campaign sponsored by the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (CRPF) and Step Up Women's Network, with support from Merck & Co., Inc., to raise awareness and understanding of cervical cancer, its cause and the importance of preventive screenings through Pap tests. Worldwide, cervical cancer is diagnosed in about 500,000 women each year and responsible for more than 280,000 deaths. In the United States, about 10,000 women will develop cervical cancer this year and about 3,000 will die from this disease.

The campaign urges women to "make the connection" between cervical cancer and HPV. Despite the fact that approximately eight of 10 sexually active women will be infected by HPV in their lifetimes, 76 percent (3,432 respondents nationwide) of women who participated in a nationwide survey conducted by the campaign partners did not know that cervical cancer is caused by a virus. The awareness level was very similar locally: 75 percent (222 respondents) of Texas women surveyed did not know cervical cancer is caused by a virus.

"I am dedicated to reaching out and encouraging women to educate themselves about the connection between HPV and cervical cancer," said Ferrera, who has also appeared in Lords of Dogtown and Real Woman Have Curves, and is now one of several celebrities participating in Make the Connection. "As women, we need to connect with each other to share knowledge and information about this preventable disease."

"These survey results demonstrate the need to reach women with the facts about how they can reduce their chances of getting cervical cancer," said Cody. "Education and appropriate Pap screening are two of the most important tools we have to defeat this disease."

"Through this campaign, we will provide women with information about cervical cancer, HPV and the importance of regular Pap screening," added Carolyn Aldigé, Founder and President of the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation. Cervical cancer often can be prevented if women are screened regularly with Pap tests, a standard part of most gynecologic exams.

Make the Connection
A key element of the campaign is the Make the Connection bead, part of a create-it-yourself bracelet kit that will help raise cervical cancer awareness. Make the Connection bracelet kits are available free through the campaign's Web site and toll-free information line and 888-4-HPV-CONNECT -and also at Make the Connectionbeading events across the country. Everyone who orders the free Make the Connection bracelet kit will get two kits, so she can invite someone to join her in showing support against cervical cancer. The beading events will bring women together to bead, talk about cervical cancer and meet the young actresses who are part of the campaign: in addition to Ferrera, JoAnna Garcia (Reba, Not Another Teen Movie, Dawson's Creek, Boston Public and Party of Five) and Beverly Mitchell (7th Heaven, The Crow: City of Angels, Baywatch, Melrose Place, and Right on Track). Locations and dates for the Make the Connection beading events can be found on

About Cervical Cancer and Human Papillomavirus
Cervical cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. All cervical cancers are caused by some type of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that spreads through intimate contact and infects approximately 6 million people annually in the United States alone. Infection with "high-risk" HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for more than two-thirds of all cervical cancers. Although a person's immune system usually clears HPV on its own, there is no cure for HPV infection. In addition to the cancer-causing high-risk HPV types, infection with low-risk types can lead to other non-cancerous cervical lesions.

Pap screenings, simple tests conducted in doctors' offices or clinics to detect changes in the cells in and around the cervix, are one of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer. Women should talk to their healthcare providers to schedule regular Pap testing and discuss results with them.

For more information on cervical cancer, HPV and the Make the Connection campaign, visit, or call 888-4-HPV-CONNECT.

About the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation
The Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation was started in 1985 when Founder and President Carolyn Aldigé first understood the power of prevention to defeat cancer - and recognized that too few of the country's resources were used to promote cancer prevention research or education. Today, it is one of the nation's leading health organizations and has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence. Since its inception the Foundation has provided more than $74 million in support of cancer prevention and early detection research and education programs. CRPF peer-reviewed grants have been awarded to more than 250 scientists from more than 150 of the leading academic medical centers nationwide. This research has been pivotal in developing a body of knowledge that is the basis for important cancer prevention and early detection strategies.

About Step Up Women's Network
Founded in 1998, Step Up Women's Network is a nonprofit, membership organization dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls. Through hands-on community service, mentoring, and fundraising for women's health and critical issues, Step Up Women's Network educates and activates their membership to ensure that women and girls have the tools they need to create a better future.

About Merck & Co., Inc.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines in more than 20 therapeutic categories. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit

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Company: Merck & Co., Inc
Contact Name: Kelley O'Neal
Contact Phone: 212-642-7785

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