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Medical News

The HPV Debate: Majority of Pediatricians Recommend Vaccine, but Opponents Fear Its Use Could Lead to Promiscuity

June 11, 2009

A 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics survey found 81 percent of pediatricians were likely to offer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) to their female patients. As of June 2008, Merck & Co. had distributed 18 million doses of its vaccine Gardasil in the United States. Yet while the health care community advocates for the vaccine, which protects against HPV strains linked to 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital wart cases, many parents are still not on board. Merck reported in August that about 60 percent of 11- to 12-year-old girls had yet to receive the vaccine.

Gardasil is recommended for girls as young as nine, before possible exposure to HPV. According to CDC, more than 50 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with the STD at some point in their lives. And because most HPV cases are symptom-free, people often do not know they have been infected. In addition, HPV can be transmitted not only through sexual intercourse but also by skin-to-skin contact and oral sex.

Pediatricians say some parents cringe at the thought of their child becoming sexually active. "A lot of parents of 11-year-old girls don't want to think about sexual activity and want to put it off a little longer," said Dr. Kevin Karpowicz of the Ellis Pediatric Health Center in Schenectady.

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"[Vaccination] doesn't necessarily mean this is a passport for going and having sex," said Swatantra Mitta, a physician with Clifton Park Pediatrics in New York. Mitta said she counsels parents and patients on this point, noting that Gardasil does not protect against other STDs, including HIV, or pregnancy.

Back to other news for June 2009

Adapted from:
Daily Gazette (Schenectady, N.Y.)
06.06.2009; Joanne E. McFadden


  
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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.
 
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