A Shot In The Dark

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The Center for Disease Control just released statistics citing a 56% decrease in the spread of the HPV virus among teens since the vaccine’s introduction in 2006.

That’s great news in the battle of HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the country.
Many people contract the virus and show no symptoms, thus passing it along to their partners unwittingly. While the virus can cause genital warts in both sexes, HPV is found in virtually all of the cervical cancer cases diagnosed.

The vaccine, often known by the trade name Gardasil, is given in 3 doses, spaced out within a six-month timeframe, and is approved for females ages 10-26. Ideally, it is given when the girls are 10-13 years old, prior to becoming sexual active. In 2009, the vaccine was approved for boys as well, who can also contract the disease and certain related cancers.

While it is wonderful news that the efficacy rate for the shot is about 82%, skeptical parents who are uncomfortable with the vaccine’s potential side effects, and discussing the sexuality issues that accompany it are still not embracing it.  The virus can be spread through other means, although sexual transmission is the most common.
My own child was inoculated last week, and other than a very sore arm, there were no immediate side effects. The idea that she may be protected from cervical cancer in the future is well worth the mild pain.

Currently, only 11.5% of all girls in the United States are being vaccinated, vs. 80% in other countries such as Great Britain, Denmark and Rwanda. Hopefully, the successful prevention of HPV and subsequently cervical cancer will over shadow the controversy surrounding the drug so that our population may also benefit from the protection it provides.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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5 Responses to “A Shot In The Dark”

  1. Autism Mom Praying In The Storm Says:

    Hope your daughter will be ok. Six million dollars have been paid out in lawsuits, and they don’t pay out vaccine damages very easily. Best wishes.

  2. Ian Crawford Says:

    Most cervical cancers develop slowly through a series of abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, changes most often related to an HPV virus. Regular Pap tests can detect these changes and the abnormal tissue can be removed. Pap tests would still be needed even if the experimental vaccine used in this study proves widely effective because the vaccine only works against one kind of HPV.

  3. Bennie T. Fox Says:

    Even though 90% of people who get HPV will clear the virus within two years, 12,710 women will receive a diagnosis of cervical cancer by the end of 2012. In that same year, 4220 women will die. The odds of beating this cancer are much greater if caught early.

  4. Mona Weeks Says:

    Vaccines are now available to prevent infection with types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer. The Gardasil and Cervarix cervical cancer vaccines are licensed in the UK. These vaccines will help to prevent this type of cancer in the future.

  5. Randolph Andrews Says:

    When cancer screening guidelines are followed most, but not all cervical cancers are found at an early, curable stage. Most cervical cancers in the United States are diagnosed in women who have never had a Pap test, or who haven’t had a Pap test in many years.

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