Will everyone please shut up?

It seems every day now there’s some new mention of the HPV vaccine being cancelled – it’s even invading my facebook by asking me to inviting me to protest against it. And with all this I have to ask, does anyone actually bother to question the benefits of vaccines anymore?
At a time when the jury is still out on whether or not the MRR will cause autism among other things, the Mommies and Daddies of Ireland seemed to accept this free offer to stop the “heavy petting” STI in it’s tracts because of a link to cervical cancer… just a link. Honestly lads, a bit more civil disobedience is necessary if people can’t even read up on it first before they herald it as Mary Harney walking on water (a feat even Jesus couldn’t muster).

The NY Times debunked the myth in August with supporting evidence from two medical journals.

In her article, Dr. Haug points out the vaccines have been studied for a relatively short period — both were licensed in 2006 and have been studied in clinical trails for at most six and a half years. Researchers have not yet demonstrated how long the immunity will last, or whether eliminating some strains of cancer-causing virus will decrease the body’s natural immunity to other strains.

So it’s russian-roulette with how long it lasts and I could get another type? Sign me up!

More to the point, because cervical cancer develops only after years of chronic infection with HPV, Dr. Haug said there was not yet absolute proof that protection against these two strains of the virus would ultimately reduce rates of cervical cancer — although in theory it should do so

By the same reasoning though, regular sexual health screening will decrease the likelihood of HPV and thus cervical cancer – and isn’t that free in a lot of places?

The second paper published this week, a study by Jane J. Kim and Dr. Sue Goldie of Harvard, looks at the issue of costs and concludes that the vaccines will be cost effective only if used in certain ways. In particular, the researchers say the vaccines will be worth the cost only if they prove to protect girls for a lifetime, and if current methods for screening for cervical cancer using Pap smears can be safely adjusted to reduce costs there. Further research is required in both areas.

”I believe the vaccine is a great advance, but we have to implement it properly to get the benefits, and that hasn’t happened,” said Dr. Philip Davies of the European Cervical Cancer Association.

In developed countries, Pap smear screening and treatment have effectively reduced cervical cancer death rates to very low levels already. There are 3,600 deaths annually from cervical cancer in the United States, 1,000 in France and 400 in Britain.

Cervical cancer, like skin cancer, can generally be caught at precancerous or non-invasive stages and treated. Because the vaccine prevents infection with only some of the cancer-causing strains, Pap smear screening must continue even in those who are vaccinated.

So the government would have basically just have been increasing it’s costs without a proportionate return? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we generally like it when the government change bad policy decisions?

The other issue with the vaccine is that by being distributed only to women it ignores cancers linked to HPV in men

A clinical trial testing therapies for advanced tongue and tonsil cancers has found that more than 40 percent of the tumors in men were infected with HPV. If there is good news in the finding, it is that these HPV-associated tumors were among the most responsive to treatment.

Of an estimated 28,900 cases of oral cancer a year, 18,550 are in men.

So we account for 64% of oral cancers and the government didn’t think we deserved the vaccine? Then again, it’s easier to treat so that somewhat dispels the need for it at all.

Personally, I find it entertaining that Mary almost unanimously got away without the public questioning the value of the vaccine – but next time, don’t just make it sound like it’s a cost-saving measure and please, leave my facebook out of it.

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