By Leslie Terjesen on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

          “As the summer quickly slips by, we are getting ready for this year’s Pretty in Pink/Handsome in Blue Day, which will take place on October 19th.  This special day, formally recognized as Pretty in Pink Day in Ocean County, will now focus on all cancers that affect both women and men.  It will be a day to recognize, celebrate and remember those who have been affected by any type of cancer,” stated Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.

            Pretty in Pink/Handsome in Blue Day encourages all of our county residents to take the time to partake in this important day by wearing something pink or blue.  This day is sponsored by the Ocean County Health Department, the Long Beach Island Health Department, the Ocean County Department of Human Services, the Ocean County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, the Ocean/Monmouth Health Alliance, and the Ocean County Library System, in addition to the Ocean County Freeholder Board.

            As we prepare for this day, much of the focus will be educating the public on several different cancers.  “Our Pretty in Pink/Handsome in Blue committee wanted to start by focusing on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can ultimately cause cervical cancer in women and other types of cancer in men.  There is a vaccine to prevent this and is recommended for boys and girls, at ages 11 and 12.  Since this is also National Immunization Awareness Month and encourages parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on immunizations, we felt it was appropriate to begin our campaign by focusing on HPV prevention as parents get their children’s’ vaccinations up-to-date before school begins,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator.

            The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006 and HPV prevalence decreased 56 percent among female teenagers 14 – 19 years of age.  About 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20’s, are infected with HPV.  Each year, about 14 million people become newly infected. 

            According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 19,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV occur in women, and cervical cancer is the most common.  About 8,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV occur each year in men in the United States.  Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV.  In many cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems.  But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.   There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems  People with weak immune systems may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it.

One of the best ways to avoid HPV is to get vaccinated against HPV.  The vaccine is safe and effective, and again, recommended at ages 11 or 12.

            Visit the Ocean County Health Department’s website at or follow the Health Department on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like us on Facebook.