Hmm, instead of ‘One Less’ I’ll be one more?

Syringe by Andres RuedaI’m not gonna lie, I think those Gardasil commercials are fantastic. You know, the ones with the girls jumping rope, or coming in from a soccer game, pledging to be "One Less"? Well they’re so good that I decided, despite the increased FDA warnings, I wanted to go ahead and get the vaccine that protects against some of the most common forms of HPV.


Unfortunately, I’m over 26 years old, meaning for me the vaccine isn’t covered by insurance nor is it officially FDA-approved. The assumption, according to my doctor, is that by age 25 I’ll have already contracted HPV anyways, rendering the vaccine useless. I could pony up for the vaccine, but the $600 of my own money was a little more than I can afford. 


Which, you know, I kind of think is BS. I’ve never exhibited symptoms of HPV. While this doesn’t mean I’m not infected, it does mean there’s a good chance that for me getting the vaccine actually could be a lifesaving decision.


Luckily a study was recently published in the Lancet showing that the HPV vaccine could potentially be useful for both boys (who, you know, have an equal hand in spreading HPV) and women over age 24 (you think!?).


I know people have mixed feelings about the vaccine, and that it doesn’t prevent all forms of HPV or cervical cancer, but dammit, I can’t help but want to be given an (affordable) choice. 


But what do you think? Am I being overoptimistic, and most likely really do already have HPV? And have you all gotten the vaccine? Were you happy with it? Would you go ahead and pay the $600?


Photo by Andres Rueda. A version of this post originally appeared on the PPNYC Blog

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  • invalid-0

    There’s no point in me spending the $600 because I already was exposed – when I was 29.

    A couple of points:

    1: Only about 30% of women already have HPV. The vaccine could prevent the other 70% of women from being infected.

    2: There is a test available to find out your status.

    3: There is more than one type of HPV and while you might have already been exposed to one, the vaccine would still protect you from the others.

    4: How expensive is being repetitively tested for and then treated for cervical cancer?

  • led

    Is anyone else annoyed with this campaign? It’s ‘one fewer’ case, not ‘one less’ case! I think it’s a great idea and I like the look of it, but I cringe at the grammar.
    Also, I’m 25 and will not be getting vaccinated. According to the American Cancer Society, around 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year. As someone with access to preventive medicine, cervical cancer is low on my list of concerns. I will continue to have Paps every three years (as long as the results are normal) and save my money and worries for other things. That being said, I think insurance should cover the vaccine for people of any age who believe they are at risk for new infection. If erectile dysfunction drugs are routinely covered, vaccinations should be too! And throw in contraception while you’re at it!!

  • invalid-0

    I agree with you that the vaccine should be affordable. I also think it’s BS that the FDA only approved it for girls and young women up to 24. If you haven’t had sex, why would you be infected with HPV? Is the government (FDA being part of the government) thinks women over 24 most likely already have HPV, then they assume that most people are sexually active, whether they’re married or not, which will lead to another type of discussion.

    But if you have been sexually active, DO NOT expect ANY symptoms of HPV and assume that you don’t have it. HPV, if showing as actual warts, most likely will be inside your vagina and near your cervix and you won’t feel a thing. Even if your Paps have returned negative, there’s a chance you’re carrying the virus.

    I agree with you. WOmen over 24 should be able to get the vaccine. And since the vaccine covers only 4 types, you may not be infected with the types the vaccine covers, so you should still be able to have an option – an affordable one.

  • 29834273

    Actually, not getting it could be good for your health.  There is another vaccine for it, I forgot the name of it, but it’s approved to prevent a couple more things than Gardisil is.


    The effects of Gardisil (from toward the bottom of the page): 

     A total of 102 subjects out of 21,464 total subjects (9- to 26-year-old girls and women and 9- to 15- year-old boys) who received both GARDASIL and placebo reported a serious adverse experience on Day 1-15 following any vaccination visit during the clinical trials for GARDASIL. The most frequently reported serious adverse experiences for GARDASIL compared to placebo and regardless of causality were: headache (0.03% GARDASIL vs. 0.02% Placebo), gastroenteritis (0.03% GARDASIL vs. 0.01% Placebo), appendicitis (0.02% GARDASIL vs. 0.01% Placebo), pelvic inflammatory disease (0.02% GARDASIL vs. 0.01% Placebo). One case of bronchospasm and 2 cases of asthma were reported as serious adverse experiences that occurred during Day 1-15 of any vaccination visit. Deaths Across the clinical studies, 17 deaths were reported in 21,464 male and female subjects. The events reported were consistent with events expected in healthy adolescent and adult populations. The most common cause of death was motor vehicle accident (4 subjects who received GARDASIL and 3 placebo subjects), followed by overdose/suicide (1 subject who received GARDASIL and 2 subjects who received placebo), and pulmonary embolus/deep vein thrombosis (1 subject who received GARDASIL and 1 placebo subject). In addition, there were 2 cases of sepsis, 1 case of pancreatic cancer, and 1 case of arrhythmia in the group that received GARDASIL, and 1 case of asphyxia in the placebo group


    If it’s that bad on people in the age group it’s approved for, it could be worse for those of you above the age it’s approved for.

    I did some research and it costs $120 per injection. That comes out to $360 plus the cost of doctor visits.

    • invalid-0

      Those are not the “effects” of Gardasil. It would be like saying that because my goldfish died today, goldfish death is the effect of the sun coming up in the morning.

      There is a bivalent vaccine that covers HPV Type 16 & 18 but has good cross-protection, meaning that you get protection from other types. There is also a quadravalent vaccine that covers 16, 18, 6 & 11, which includes most causes of genital warts.

      There is DNA and RNA testing available to check for HPV infection but it doesn’t help to test on younger women and get panicked, because most of the cases will resolve. Where the testing comes in is to decide on managament options for when you get abnormal (but not cancerous) Pap smear results. At least, this is what they teach in middle-income countries, I’m not sure how things are done in USA.

      The thinking behind classifying women by age groups is (I hope) more statistical than judgemental. It’s about age of first intercourse but also about the time available for the virus to cause changes at your cervix.

      I know that peace of mind is worth a lot though, so if it would make you feel better, if there are no contraindications and it makes sense to you economically, then why not get the vaccine? It still makes sense to keep up with Pap smears though, either way.

    • invalid-0

      You have the “effects” condused with “things that happened to participants during the clinical trials phase.
      All of these effects and more, FOR EVERY DRUG tested in clinical trials, might, can and does happen to participants.
      And it’s this reporting by medical sties to the drug companies and the FDA that you’re coming up with.
      SO, let’s say a participant in these trials is taking this investigational drug – yet they are on another prescribed drug, or have an underlying condition, or even have an accident that results in them having to be hospitalized.
      ALL OF THIS must be reported as it falls under the very broad category of Safety Reporting.
      Does this mean that the direct cause of the auto accident WAS Gardasil? No – chances are very slim to none and yet it must be reported.
      So, learn how these studies and how medical reporting works (they MUST be ass thorough as possible), stop being an idiot who tries to scare people out of doing appropriate things to protect their health and their lives and stop wasting out time on here.

  • invalid-0

    If it’s that bad on people in the age group it’s approved for, it could be worse for those of you above the age it’s approved for.

    Wow, 29834273, I had no idea Gardasil could cause death by motor vehicle accident! I guess I should better not take it, then!

  • invalid-0

    I just turned 27, and I thought until two weeks before I turned 26 and went for an annual exam that the insurance covers you WHILE you were 26. Instead, I found out that you’re only covered until you TURN 26, and not only that, but that the vaccine comes in packs of 10 or 12 and is so expensive that the doctor’s office wouldn’t even order it until they had a list of patients who requested the vaccine, so I couldn’t even schedule an appointment in the two weeks before my birthday. My insurance was up in the air at that time, too, because I had just been laid off two weeks earlier, but would not be covered under the “Healthy NY” supplemental insurance until two weeks later, and although I would have paid the $300 for the COBRA for the interim month if it would have covered the vaccine, the scheduling and waiting period negated that option. Now I’ve just turned 27, will likely break up with my boyfriend of 4 years in the very near future, and am not covered for the vaccine. The rules are incredibly arbitrary.

    Moreover, when I specifically asked to be tested for HPV, I was refused a test, and told that they are only done if there are abnormal pap smear findings! If insurance companies want to save money by refusing those already exposed to the vaccine strains, it should perform tests for those strains and cover the vaccine for women of ANY age who have not been exposed!

  • invalid-0

    My HPV was found in 2004 at age 51. CN 1 cervical 6 months later after a colposcopy. I’ve always had annual paps. I opted for cryosurgery which did not work. I’ve seen a gynocological oncologist. Not cancer. Not yet. Maybe progress, maybe not. Pap/HPV test every 6 months to check progress. That is, IF I can get an appointment, because there are supposedly not enough gynocologists to go around in New England. My Doctor suggested a cone biopsy now, with no guarantee, and hysterectomy not recommended, because “most HPV resolves itself without intervention”, and I have no other gynocological symptoms or problems. There’s plenty of time in between paps/repeat colposcopys for the CN 1 to progress to stages 2, 3, etc. Waiting for biopsy results is hell. It takes 3 weeks to get them. Yes, 3 weeks. If a male presents to a doctor with possible testicular cancer, he gets the biopsy results in 1 week. We women on the other hand, must spend 3 times as long in hell.
    Not fair.
    There are over 100 strains of HPV and some of them can lie dormant in our bodies for years, so I don’t believe in the recommended age range. If it were not too late for me, I would get the vaccine.