STD Vaccines in Works, but for Children
September 23, 2005
By year's end, the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could be submitted for Food and Drug Administration approval. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) vaccines are in advanced clinical trials, and gonorrhea and chlamydia vaccines are also in the works. Research suggests the vaccines' best chance for efficacy will result from administering them prior to adolescence, before youths are sexually active and at risk for STD exposure. However, some conservatives believe giving such a vaccine to children would effectively condone teenage sex.
"For most parents, the moral decision is to protect their children," said Dr. Gregory Zimet, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine who has studied parents' views of STD vaccines.
"I would have to think about it," said Julietta Bolivar, a mother of adolescents ages 10, 12, and 15. "I want to learn about it before I make a decision. I guess I would have to talk with my doctor about it first, then talk to my kids too and hear what they think."
"[STDs] in the United States will not be contained by injecting vaccines into pre-adolescents in anticipation of promiscuous behavior," said Scott Phelps, executive director of Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnerships.
The Family Research Council, a conservative group, initially opposed giving an STD vaccine to youths, which it called "a license to engage in premarital sex." But following criticism that it was rejecting a vaccine against HPV -- the main cause of cervical cancer -- FRC now says it is solely against mandatory vaccination.
Drugmakers say the STD vaccines would be no substitute for educating children about sexual activity.
Mainstream use of STD vaccines will depend on parental acceptance, experts say. Most parents and their children are amenable to STD vaccines, according to research in September's Journal of Adolescent Health. These studies also found that parents became more supportive after learning of a vaccine's health benefits or hearing a doctor recommend it.
09.18.2005; Tran M. Phung
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.