Actually, that message says that the partition table is "unreadable", not "damaged". It happens fairly often, too. And you're right...don't agree to initializing the drive unless you want to re-install everything. Try the following idea from the Fedora 7 Common Bugs. It may be the same issue (Host Protected Area). It shouldn't hurt to try anyway. It's only a kernel boot parameter. But no promises.
Partition table claimed to be invalid on previously working drive
A Google search of this forum in particular (partition+table+unreadable+initialized site:fedoraforum.org) and the Internet in general revealed a variety of other things people think are causes and cures.