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Living Happily Ever Without Cervical Cancer

Happily ever after may not last forever. But you know what can? Sexually transmitted infections.

So preventing STIs should be part of any sexually active woman's strategy at life, including after marriage, because even Prince Charming might be carrying around something other than glass slippers.

Writer and sex ed speaker Danielle Sepulveres' Tumblr, which features art by Maritza Lugo, imagines the life of Disney princesses after the sunset, after the credits roll, after the happily ever. Belle, Tiana and Jasmine are each at the doctor's office, getting more information about the HPV virus and its connection to cancer.

Ellesep's Tumblr is in conjunction with Cervical Cancer Awareness month and an effort to raise awareness about the disease.

A majority of cervical cancers are now preventable, as the doctor tells Belle, thanks to the Gardasil vaccine, which protects against the HPV virus. She and the other princesses—all women, really—need to take responsibility for their reproductive health and find out what can be prevented and how. The Tumblr is the result of a lack of interest in her pitches to write about cervical cancer awareness and prevention last year.

So she went down the well-worn path of reimagining Disney princesses, this time in stirrups at the gynecologist's office. The latest statistics show more than 12,000 women in 2012 were diagnosed with cervical cancer, a third of them dying from the disease. This even though screening is highly accurate and, even more so, there's a vaccine for the virus that causes nearly all cancers of the cervix and a few others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for all boys and girls around 11 and 12 years old. But rates for the immunization are low, Tara Haelle reports in Forbes.

Only 60 percent of girls and 42 percent of boys got at least one dose in 2014. Just 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys went through with all three doses, which the vaccine requires. Instead, Sepultures says instead of real prevention, kids are told the best way to be safe is to just not have sex.

"Do we really want kids sitting through a class teaching them that a girl saying 'no' to sex is the one you should keep pursuing? Or just regaling horror stories of when birth control didn't work instead of properly explaining how to use it?" she writes.

More than 12,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, and more than 4,000 died from the disease, according to the CDC. Yet with highly accurate screening methods and a vaccine that prevents human papillomavirus (HPV)—the underlying cause of nearly all cervical cancer and several other cancers—those numbers could be reduced to almost zero with higher rates of the HPV vaccine, which now prevents nine different types of cervical cancers.

Mulan's ready. Are you?

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Images by: Maritza Lugo

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