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Why I'm not getting the HPV vaccine, part 1.

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Old April 20th 08, 07:40 PM posted to misc.kids.health,misc.health.alternative,talk.politics.medicine,sci.med.nursing
Ilena Rose
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Default Why I'm not getting the HPV vaccine, part 1.

politics and huge PR efforts revealed


Why I'm not getting the HPV vaccine, part 1.
I became concerned about the HPV vaccine when I saw that a number of
states were mandating that it be required for girls in public schools.
As a sexually active young woman, I am at pretty high risk for
contracting HPV, but I have chosen not to receive the vaccine, because
I am skeptical that the legislation being passed regarding it is being
done so unscrupulously and untransparently. I'm disheartened that most
public opposition to this vaccine seems to be from people who are
concerned about vaccinating young girls for an STI - not from people
like me, who look askance on legislators who are mandating compulsory
vaccinations after receiving substantial monetary donations from
pharmaceutical companies, and who feel that the attention given to
this vaccine obscures the real issues about women's reproductive
health. The HPV vaccine is not a substitute for routine healthcare,
and I feel that the legislative support it has been receiving diverts
funds that could be better used to provide pap smears for low-income

I did most of this research when Gardasil was the only vaccine
available. Part 2 will explore the ties between pharmaceutical
companies and the politicians pushing for compulsory vaccination. Part
3 will explain my concerns about this vaccine's testing method and
potential health risks.

Cervical cancer was once one of the leading causes of cancer death in
women. This is no longer the case. The American Cancer Society
estimated that about 3,600 women would die of cervical cancer in 2007.
HPV is a common STI (the Journal of the American Medical Association
estimates that over 1 in 4 women has it). Despite this high incidence,
it's estimated that 90% of HPV infections are cleared by the infected
person's immune system within 2 years. A number of people develop an
immunity to the virus. There are several types of HPV. Two - types 16
and 18 - are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases.

"This vaccine lowers the chance of you getting cervical cancer! Which
is a really common cancer!" The HPV vaccine is being billed as a
preventative measure for cervical cancer - NOT for HPV itself. Why?
Because HPV is essentially harmless - except for those two pesky
strains that can give you cervical cancer. (Well, HPV can give you
genital warts, too - but you don't see ads telling you you should be
vaccinated for genital warts, do you? That's because they're playing
up the "cervical cancer" aspect of it to quiet the folks who are
crying foul at vaccinating kids for an STD. The pharmaceutical
companies have ZERO chance of getting compulsory vaccinations for
something that prevents genital warts. I would get vaccinated for the
genital warts aspect alone, because that **** is gross, I have a lot
of sex, and if it makes me 90% immune to genital warts, I'm ALL FOR
IT. But I cannot in good conscience support a company that's marketing
this as a cervical cancer vaccine.)

Okay. I just told you that over a quarter of the US population has
HPV, making it possibly the most common STI (this has been in the news
a lot, and perhaps prompted renewed interest in the vaccine). Good
idea to vaccinate against something that causes cancer, right? Do you
know what percentage of folks with HPV have one of the types that
causes cancer?
Now, it's been awhile since I've taken math - but does it really make
sense to give shots to prevent something that 3.5% of 25% of the
population has? What does that take that percentage down to? Do you
divide 3.5 by 4? Statistically, the chances of contracting one of
those two types of HPV are VERY LOW. And in any event, types 16 and 18
are only responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Another thing I feel it's important that women know: the mortality
rate from cervical cancer is declining at a rate of 4% per year.
That's because of the advent of the pap smear test, which is CRUCIAL
to early detection. The pap smear has made it possible for cervical
cancer to be nipped in the bud, as it were. When the cancer is found
at these early stages, the relative five-year survival rate is 92% -
that's 12% higher than the 80% survival rate for people affected by
one of the other 8 cancers that can be detected early.

Last I checked, Gardasil (Merck Inc.'s vaccine) cost $360. A pap smear
costs $30. There are subsidies being used to give people Gardasil.
This money would be better used to provide free or reduced-cost pap
smears to women who otherwise would not have the means to receive
them. If Merck really gave a **** about wiping out that kind of
cancer, couldn't they have spent the millions they poured into
developing this drug, the hundreds of thousands they spent bribing
legislators to push through mandatory vaccination bills, and the
thousands they doubtless spent on the ad campaign to convince people
that this vaccine will reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, on
cervical cancer awareness or screening efforts?


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