Why are folks at my church so concerned about the HPV vaccine?



Good question!!! Actually, I really don't quite understand exactly what it is that some parents don't understand about Gardasil, the HPV vaccine licensed last year to help prevent most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer!

The facts are quite clear:

  1. HPV (human papillomavirus) disease is the most common sexually transmitted disease.

  2. There is no treatment for HPV infection.

  3. HPV can cause cervical cancer. (Seventy percent of cervical cancers are caused by two variants of HPV. The HPV vaccine protects against these two variants.)

  4. Most people infected with HPV do not know they are infected, yet can transmit the virus to unsuspecting sexual partners.

  5. Twenty percent of American girls 14 to 19 years of age are already infected with HPV.

  6. The vaccine only works if administered before the women become infected by the viral variants covered by the vaccine.

So what about the objections being raised by some parents:

The most egregious is the ridiculous notion that immunizing young girls against HPV will encourage promiscuity. This is another fallacy proposed by the misguided "abstinence-only" folks. It has been scientifically shown that the abstinence-only message is rarely, if ever, effective. Half of American girls become sexually active before graduating from high school. Even if this weren't the case, why would a vaccine make girls sexually indulgent? Even rudimentary sex education knowledge would advise that HPV is only one of many potential STDs, and certainly not protective against unwanted pregnancy!

The backlash against HPV vaccines is yet another harmful side effect of Dubya's "faith-based science" mythology.

Is it 2008 yet?

Dr. Bob