SCC events promote HPV vaccine

By Sarah Hetherington

[img id=”80183″ align=”alignleft”] The U of C bookstore, in conjunction with the Student Care Center (SCC) and Peer Health Educators (PHE), hosted three free events to promote awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the new HPV vaccine for women, Gardasil.

Tara Paulson, director of health promotion and adviser to PHE, said that Merck, the company that manufactures Gardasil and runs the “One Less” campaign, chose only two universities to participate in its pilot marketing program. The Ohio State University will also be involved.

“Merck, Sony, and the bookstore teamed up and hosted free events so that students can ask questions and get information about HPV and learn about Gardasil,” Paulson said. Students were offered free cups of coffee at each event, as well as information and free gifts related to HPV and Gardasil.

Avon gave free makeovers on Wednesday, while Student Care Providers and PHE tabled on Thursday, giving special attention to men’s health.

“We felt that it’s very rare that there’s a men’s health event on campus. We wanted to bring men’s health into a seemingly women-specific issue,” said second-year peer health educator Colleen Christensen, who helped distribute bags of peanuts labeled with instructions on how to give self-testicular exams.

Christensen also attended the third and final event, a performance by the singer/songwriter Jordan Lawhead, whom she said was an advocate of “using music as a way to bring publicity to health issues.”

Paulson said that Lawhead “signed on with Sony to do a concert at the bookstore, not necessarily for awareness for HPV,” but that “all the events were a kind of collaboration between a lot of different people.”

Paulson described Thursday’s events—the SCC and PHE’s information sessions, which were separate from Merck’s promotional events—as “well attended.” She estimated that between 100 and 200 free “One Less” T-shirts were given out, along with a number of brochures and flyers.

Students can visit the SCC to receive the Gardasil vaccine, which is given in a series of three shots over a period of six months. Each shot costs $135 and is not covered under the student health and wellness fee. As some insurance companies do cover all or part of the vaccine, Paulson encouraged students to check with their outside insurance providers.

After successful tests of the pilot programs at Ohio State and the U of C, Merck plans to create similar programs at approximately 20 schools this fall.