Can We Have A Grown-Up Conversation About HPV Yet?


One thing guaranteed about presidential election season is that any issue that a major candidate chooses to raise, no matter how obscure beforehand, can suddenly rise to an issue of national importance.  Thus it has been with the HPV vaccine.  Ever since it’s come out, those of us in the trenches on reproductive health care have been trying to raise the alarm about right-wing opposition to the vaccine, which prevents transmission of harmful forms of Human Papilomavirus (HPV), thereby also preventing the possible development of genital warts and of cervical cancer, and all the various and unpleasant treatments women have to endure to make sure they don’t get cervical cancer, such as coloscopies  and LEEP procedures.  But because it prevents a disease you get through sexual contact, many on the Christian right oppose the vaccination.  They tend to mindlessly support anything—even deadly cancers—that can be perceived as divine justice for the very human act of having sex.

Before Michele Bachmann started yapping on national TV about the vaccine and claiming that it makes girls “retarded”, pervasive right wing opposition to the vaccine wasn’t deemed worthy of much mainstream media attention.  I suspect that it was seen as a fringe phenomenon, like the belief that fluoride in the drinking water is a mind control agent. In one sense, it is a fringe belief—there’s consensus amongst experts that this vaccine is a good thing.  But because the experts believe something doesn’t mean that nutty opinions in the public at large can’t have widespread negative effects.  Whisper campaigns against the HPV vaccines are a perfect example. Only a third of girls are getting all three shots, for instance.  Part of the problem is that it’s a hassle to get three shots, and part of the problem is that it’s expensive.  But the research has shown that as income levels rose past a certain point, vaccination rates declined slightly.  This probably reflects the fact that people on the somewhat wealthier end of the spectrum are more likely to be conservative, and therefore more likely to think it’s appropriate to use the fear of disease and death to control female sexuality.

Whisper campaigns work. Conservatives have been chugging away, insinuating in a person-to-person way that the vaccines cause sluttiness, retardation, and all sorts of sundry evils.  Since people tend to already have deep-set fears about female sexuality—especially when they’re forced to think about how their own little girls are going to turn into grown women who have sex—these rumors can do tremendous damage. Even liberals are holding off on vaccinating their girls because they heard “somewhere” that the vaccines are “untested” and “dangerous,” even though that’s simply not true in the slightest, something they could verify for themselves by consulting with the Centers for Disease Control.  If you hear that the vaccine is dangerous and untested, it’s wise to stop and think about where that idea is coming from, and that is basically people who think sex is so evil that they literally believe young women should face death as a possible consequence of having sex.

It took Michele Bachmann saying the sorts of things on TV that people have been saying in private for the story to get covered.  And really, when you hear with your own ears the clumsy fear-mongering around the vaccine, you start to see why it was so hard to cover the story before.  It’s simply that difficult to believe anyone would buy the legends that have been circulating about the vaccine, particularly the notion that a 12-year-old could get it and suddenly and without warning develop severe mental illnesses. 

What I don’t see happening, however, is what most needs to happen: a national dialogue on how irrational fears about sexuality, especially female sexuality, allow people to believe all sorts of nonsense about women’s bodies and sexual health.  I see this topic being avoided in no small part because a lot of otherwise rational people can get completely silly on this issue, and when called out for it, they get incredibly defensive.

After all, they’re not like those people, aka fundamentalist Christians who believe Satan speaks to kids on records and that you can go to hell for masturbating.  So they lock up and refuse to discuss how it is that they have a totally irrational fear of a vaccine that just so happens to prevent a common STI.  Mary Beth Williams’ reaction to being criticized because she had an irrational freak-out over her daughter accidentally being vaccinated against HPV instead of against meningitis is typical. Even though her original article regurgitated rumors and innuendo that have been spread through the public by right wingers with an anti-sex agenda, she simply couldn’t accept that was perhaps why she irrationally believed that the HPV vaccine was dangerous and untested, even though the information demonstrating that it’s safe and tested is easily available.  Being a rational person, she did eventually get her daughter vaccinated, but the insistence that this vaccine is somehow scarier and requires more hand-wringing, crying it out, and worrying about choice than any other vaccine on the market—which is simply administered, no questions asked—does have its roots in this right wing whisper campaign.  Rumors work because they prey on unconscious fears, and one of the biggest is our unconscious fears about female sexuality.

But the gawking and laughing at Michele Bachmann for being so clumsy about her attacks on the HPV vaccine might help.  Most people are more sophisticated in generating their irrational excuses for being worried about it, making vague insinuations that it wasn’t tested enough or there’s some unknown and undiscovered danger. By actually making claims about what she believed that danger to be, Bachmann showed how silly people’s fears really are.  Maybe going forward, more people who had these vague, unarticulated fears about the supposed dangers of preventing HPV transmission will cringe in shame at the possibility that they sound like Michele Bachmann, and will instead make the right choice to be more rational about this.    

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • colek3

    I absolutely support vaccines and become enraged when parents “opt out” of life-saving vaccines.  There is no reason that a child should die of a completely preventable disease, or inflict it on others around them.  I intend to have my daughter vaccinated when she is at the right age for this and other things (menningitis for one).  

    I am concerned that it might be premature to mandate this vaccination until the true long-term effects of it are known. 

    The FDA has a history of approving drugs that lead to death and market withdrawal, which equals, in my opinion, running trials on the public.  This is particularly troubling when considering this is being administered to adolsecent females.

  • crowepps

    “This is particularly troubling when considering this is being administered to adolsecent females.”

    This is the red flag phrase that makes it clear what the real objection is, because, if it is “premature to mandate this vaccination until the true long-term effects of it are known” then why would it be LESS troubling if it were being adminstered to adolescent BOYS?  Why would it be LESS troubling if it were being administered to infants?

    This red flag phrase makes it clear the problem is there will no longer be ‘horror’ that can be used to terrify junior high and high school girls out of having sex.  I personally think girls younger than 17 or so are not emotionally mature enough for sex, but it is truly abusive and verges on insanity to leave our daughters at risk of getting cancer.

  • tominator

    There is a group of medical people, doctors, etc., who don’t think Gardisal does anything very much useful to justify it’s expensive price. First of all, it was only intended for the Third World never the US but because Merck was losing it’s monopoly position, they wanted to push it out to as many young girls as possible. Second, it doesn’t really do very much and has some serious complications with a high incidence of them.

     

    http://www.pop.org/content/merck-researcher-admits-gardasil-guards-against-almost-nothing-985

     

    I really resent your article saying ” Being a rational person, she did eventually get her daughter vaccinated…” as if only unrational people would refuse.

     

    I’m not against all vaccines but when my daughter was faced with this her mother and I and my daughter did some research and we read articles about it. It could be that the reason higher income people are not getting the vaccine isn’t because they are more conservative but it could merely be that they did more research on the Internet about it. You are saying only “irrational” people would refuse this vaccine when Merck’s own medical people have a hard time explaining the benefits of the vaccine to other healthcare professionals. (Read link above.)

     

    And, FYI, I’m a sex-positive liberal.

    Accy to the article:

    As I sat scribbling down Merck’s claims, I wondered why such mass vaccination campaigns were necessary. After all, as Dr. Harper explained, 70% of HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment in one year. After two years, this rate climbs to 90%. Of the remaining 10% of HPV infections, only half coincide with the development of cervical cancer.

     

    So this must mean when we vaccine 9-12 year olds we are assuming they are already having sex or going to in the next year or so. If you read the article, written by a health professional, you can see there is very little medical case for this vaccine and some compelling reasons to avoid it.

    http://www.pop.org/content/merck-researcher-admits-gardasil-guards-against-almost-nothing-985

     

    It is hard to imagine a less compelling case for Gardasil. First of all, it is highly unlikely that 70% or more of the female population will continue to get routine Gardasil shots and boosters, along with annual PAP smears. And even if it did, according to Dr. Harper, “after 60 years, the vaccination will [only] have prevented 70% of incidences” of cervical cancer.

    But rates of death from cervical cancer are already declining. Let’s do the math. If the 4% annual decline in cervical cancer death continues, in 60 years there will have been a 91.4% decline in cervical cancer death just from current cancer monitoring and treatment. Comparing this rate of decline to Gardasil’s projected “very minimal” reduction in the rate of cervical cancer of only 70 % of incidences in 60 years, it is hard to resist the conclusion that Gardasil does almost nothing for the health of American women.

    Despite these dismal projections, Gardasil continues to be widely and aggressively promoted among pre-teen girls. The CDC reports that, by 1 June 2009, over 26 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the U.S.4 With hopes of soon tapping the adolescent male demographic, Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the vaccine, and certain Merck-funded U.S. medical organizations are targeting girls between the ages of 9 and 13.5 As CBS news reports, “Gardasil, launched in 2006 for girls and young women, quickly became one of Merck’s top-selling vaccines, thanks to aggressive marketing and attempts to get states to require girls to get the vaccine as a requirement for school attendance.”6

    Just as I began, in my own mind, to question ethics of mass vaccinations of prepubescent girls, Dr. Harper dropped another bombshell. “There have been no efficacy trials in girls under 15 years,” she told us.

    Merck did study a small group of girls under 16 who had been vaccinated, but did not follow them long enough to conclude sufficient presence of effective HPV antibodies.

    If I wasn’t skeptical enough already, I really started scratching my head when Dr. Harper explained, “if you vaccinate a child, she won’t keep immunity in puberty and you do nothing to prevent cervical cancer.” But it turned out that she wasn’t arguing for postponing Gardasil vaccination until later puberty, as I first thought. Rather, Dr. Harper only emphasized to the doctors in the audience the need for Gardasil booster shots, because it is still unknown how long the vaccine immunity lasts. More booster shots mean more money for Merck, obviously.

    I left Dr. Harper’s lecture convinced that Gardasil did little to stop cervical cancer, and determined to answer another question that she had largely ducked: Is this vaccine safe?

    Here’s what my research turned up. To date, 15,037 girls have officially reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse effects include Guilliane Barre, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation and many others. The CDC acknowledges that there have been 44 reported deaths.7

    Dr. Harper, who seems to specialize in dropping bombshells, dropped another in an interview with ABC News when she admitted that “The rate of serious adverse events is greater than the incidence rate of cervical cancer.”8 This being the case, one might want to take one’s chances with cancer, especially because the side effects of the vaccine are immediate, while the possibility of developing cancer is years in the future.

    In the clinical studies alone, 23 girls died after receiving either Gardasil or the Aluminum control injection. 15 of the 13,686 girls who received Gardasil died, while 8 died among the 11,004 who received the Aluminum shot. There was only one death among the group that had a saline placebo. What this means is that 1 out of every 912 who received Gardasil in the study died.9, see p. 8 The cervical cancer death rate is 1 out of every 40,000 women per year.10

    The numbers of deaths and adverse effects are undoubtedly underestimates. Dr. Harper’s comments to ABC News concur with the National Vaccine Information Center’s claim that “though nearly 70 percent of all Gardasil reaction reports were filed by Merck, a whopping 89 percent of the reports Merck did file were so incomplete there was not enough information for health officials to do a proper follow-up and review.”11 On average, less than 10 percent—perhaps even less than 1 percent—of serious vaccine adverse events are ever reported, according to the American Journal of Public Health.12

    Given the severity and frequency of Gardasil adverse reactions, I definitely wasn’t the only one in Dr. Harper’s audience who winced when she dismissed most Gardasil side effects as “easily just needle phobia.”

    Due to the young age of the trial participants and the short duration of the studies, the effects of Gardasil on female fecundity have not been studied. I did discover, in my post-conference reading, that Polysorbate 80, an ingredient in the vaccine,13, see p. 12 has been observed in a European clinical study to cause infertility in rats.14 Is this an additional concern? Time will tell.

    I do not wish to give the impression that Dr. Harper presented, even inadvertently, a consistently negative view of her own vaccine. She did tout certain “real benefits,” chief among them that “the vaccine will reduce the number of follow-up tests after abnormal PAP smears,” and thereby reduce the “relationship tension,” “stress and anxiety” of abnormal or false HPV positive results.

    To me, however, this seems a rather slim promise, especially when weighed against the deaths and side effects caused by the Gardasil campaign. Should millions of girls in the United States, many as young as 9, be put at risk, so that sexually active adults can have less “relationship tension” about false positive HPV results? Is the current rate of death, sterility and serious immune dysfunction from Gardasil worth the potential that in 60 years a minimal amount of a cervical disease (that is already decreasing on its own) may perhaps be reduced?

    But what I really wanted to know is why Merck is so eagerly marketing such a dangerous and ineffective vaccine? Aren’t there other ways they could make a profit? While Merck’s behavior is probably adequately explained by the profit motive, what about those in the Health and Human Services bureaucracy who apparently see Gardasil as medicine’s gift to women? What motivates them?

     

     

     

  • prochoiceferret

    And, FYI, I’m a sex-positive liberal.

     

    Then why are you getting your information from an organization that “argues against the notion that human overpopulation is occurring, and refers to itself as a ‘pro-life’ organization?”

     

    Could it be that maybe you’re not so positive on sex, not all that liberal, and not particularly nuttiness-free in the hefty dose of misinformation you’ve deposited above?

  • crowepps

    I’ve noticed that there are a lot of irrational ideologues, conspiracy theorists, and religious fanatics who really resent being calls nuts because of their beliefs.  Which doesn’t mean that they AREN’T nuts, of course.

  • tominator

    I read the article and evaluated it on its merits.

     

    I didn’t even look at anything else at that website.

     

    Yeah, ok, I see now they’re a bit kooky. But that doesn’t mean you reject everything they say. This is a report of a Merck presentation in favor of Gardisal.

     

    But, yeah, it’s certainly not a group I’m familiar with or support in any way.

  • prochoiceferret

    I didn’t even look at anything else at that website.

     

    I’m sure you read Playboy for the articles, too.

     

    But, yeah, it’s certainly not a group I’m familiar with or support in any way.

     

    That’s good to hear! I have a better article for you to read:

     

    As of June 22, 2011, approximately 35 million doses of Gardasil® were distributed in the U.S. and VAERS received a total of 18,727 reports of adverse events following Gardasil® vaccination: 17,958 reports among females and 346 reports for males, of which 285 reports were received after the vaccine was licensed for males in October 2009. VAERS received 423 reports of unknown gender. Of the total number of VAERS reports following Gardasil®, 92% were considered to be non-serious, and 8% were considered serious.

    [...]

    Based on all of the information we have today, CDC recommends HPV vaccination for the prevention of most types of cervical cancer. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor the safety of HPV vaccines. Any problems detected with these vaccines will be reported to health officials, healthcare providers, and the public and needed action will be taken to ensure the public’s health and safety.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html

  • crowepps

    “But that doesn’t mean you reject everything they say.”

    Have you ever heard of the concept often used in law to evaluate the value of witnesses’ testimony, credibility?

    The credibility of a witness or party is based upon the ability of the jury to trust and believe what he or she says, and relates to the accuracy of his or her testimony as well as to its logic, truthfulness, and sincerity. Personal credibility depends upon the qualities of a person that would lead a jury to believe or disbelieve what the person said.

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/credibility

    And in science, a similar evaluation:

    Traditionally, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components. Trustworthiness is based more on subjective factors, but can include objective measurements such as established reliability. Expertise can be similarly subjectively perceived, but also includes relatively objective characteristics of the source or message (e.g., credentials, certification or information quality).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credibility

    The definition in making business decisions is very similar

    Perception of trustworthiness an individual imparts to other people. Factors that influence source credibility are expertise and reputation for honesty.
    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/source-credibility#ixzz1YWVSeH3m

     My point is, certainly you wouldn’t “reject everything they say”, but this ‘witness’ has very little credibility, and so you sure couldn’t confidently believe it either.  It may be “a report of what a Merck spokesman said’, but based on the reputation and expertise their website establishes for them, it’s likely to be a very skewed or biased report based in their anti-science views.

  • tominator

    Read the report. It’s based on a presentation from Merck’s own person. It has a lot of factual material in it that I know to be true from other sources.

     

    The HPV virus does clear within a year in most people. Gardisal requires booster shots every two years. At $360 a pop — one of if not the most expensive vaccines around. 

    The cervical cancer doesn’t occur for many years and is highly preventible/treatible. I just don’t see the merits in it and the way it was being pushed by a for-profit corporation through government intervention makes me sick. I’m not letting my kid get injected for Merck’s profits.

     

    Besides, if she’s having sex, she knows to use a condom. Isn’t condom use a lot healthier than an unneccessary vaccine?

     

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html

     

    And I’ll raise your CDC report with my CDC report of 68 DEATHS.

    Deaths

    As of June 22, 2011 there have been a total 68 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil® . There were 54 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender. Thirty two of the total death reports have been confirmed and 36 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. A death report is confirmed (verified) after a medical doctor reviews the report and any associated records. In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination.

     

    Here’s another source — one of the leading researchers on HPV who gets money from Merck and others to research them. Here’s what she says:

    http://curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=1352842

     

    Researcher blasts HPV marketing

    BY CINDY BEVINGTON
    cindyb@kpcnews.net

    Diane M. Harper, a lead researcher in the development of the humanpapilloma virus vaccine, says giving the drug to 11-year-old girls “is a great big public health experiment.” (Photo contributed)

    http://www.kpcnews.com/articles/2007/03/14/online_features/hpv_vaccine/hpv01.txt

    LEBANON, N.H. — A lead researcher who spent 20 years developing the vaccine for humanpapilloma virus says the HPV vaccine is not for younger girls, and that it is “silly” for states to be mandating it for them.

    Not only that, she says it’s not been tested for effectiveness in younger girls, and administering the vaccine to girls as young as 9 may not even protect them at all. And, in the worst-case scenario, instead of serving to reduce the numbers of cervical cancers within 25 years, such a vaccination crusade actually could cause the numbers to go up.

    “Giving it to 11-year-olds is a great big public health experiment,” said Diane M. Harper, who is a scientist, physician, professor and the director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire.

    “It is silly to mandate vaccination of 11- to 12-year-old girls There also is not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue.”

    Internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field, Harper has been studying HPV and a possible vaccine for several of the more than 100 strains of HPV for 20 years – most of her adult life.

    All of her trials have been with subjects ages 15 to 25. In her own practice, Harper believes the ideal way of administering the new vaccine is to offer it to women ages 18 and up. At the time of their first inoculation, they should be tested for the presence of HPV in their system.

    If the test comes back negative, then schedule the follow-up series of the three-part shots. But if it comes back positive?

    “Then we don’t know squat, because medically we don’t know how to respond to that,” Harper said.

    Harper is an independent researcher whose vaccine work is funded through Dartmouth in part by both Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline, which means she is an employee of the university, not the drug companies. Merck’s vaccine, Gardasil, protects against four strains of HPV, two of which cause genital warts, Nos. 6 and 11. The other two, HPV 16 and 18, are cancer-causing viruses.

     

     

     

  • prochoiceferret

    Read the report. It’s based on a presentation from Merck’s own person. It has a lot of factual material in it that I know to be true from other sources.

     

    Then maybe you should convince a more credible source to vet and publish it.

     

    The HPV virus does clear within a year in most people.

     

    Except when it stays latent in the body, like HSV.

     

    Gardisal requires booster shots every two years.

     

    What is your source for this assertion?

     

    At $360 a pop — one of if not the most expensive vaccines around.

     

    Actually, it’s more like $120 a pop. $360 is the price of the entire three-shot regimen.

     

    The cervical cancer doesn’t occur for many years and is highly preventible/treatible. I just don’t see the merits in it and the way it was being pushed by a for-profit corporation through government intervention makes me sick. I’m not letting my kid get injected for Merck’s profits.

     

    I’m sure your non-support of Merck’s profits will be a consolation if your kid is ever diagnosed with cervical cancer.

     

    Besides, if she’s having sex, she knows to use a condom. Isn’t condom use a lot healthier than an unneccessary vaccine?

     

    Condoms lower the risk of contracting HPV, but they don’t eliminate it, because the virus can infect areas that are not covered by a condom.

     

    And I’ll raise your CDC report with my CDC report of 68 DEATHS.

     

    Out of approximately 35 million administered doses, and not necessarily even caused by the vaccine. Do you ever take your kid driving?

     

    Here’s another source — one of the leading researchers on HPV who gets money from Merck and others to research them. Here’s what she says:

     

    Apparently, it’s “If you get HPV before you’re 18, then ideally, you’d be SOL.”

  • colleen

    The cervical cancer doesn’t occur for many years and is highly preventible/treatible. I just don’t see the merits in it and the way it was being pushed by a for-profit corporation through government intervention makes me sick.

    Tom,

    according to the CDC, cervical cancer used to be the most common cause of cancer death amoungst women. The only reason it isn’t now is because more women are getting regular pap smears.

    Even with this change, the  CDC reports:

     

    In 2007 (the most recent year numbers are available)—
        •    12,280 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer.*2
        •    4,021 women in the United States died from cervical cancer.*2

     

    My grandmother died from cervical cancer, it was a horrible death.It was very expensive, very painful and certainly not easily treatable or  easily preventable.

  • beenthere72

    My step daughter has had the vaccination (no side effects) – it’s a set of shots given so many weeks apart only once, not every 2 years.  Insurance covered it, but I don’t recall if it was 100%.

     

    Dosage and Administration

    GARDASIL should be administered in 3 separate intramuscular injections in the deltoid region of the upper arm or in the higher anterolateral area of the thigh over a 6-month period with the first dose at an elected date, the second dose 2 months after the first dose, and the third dose 6 months after the first dose.

     

    http://www.merckvaccines.com/Products/Gardasil/Pages/recommendations.aspx

     

    HPV can be transmitted with or without condoms.   I had it in a location that could still make skin contact with a partner with a condom on.   Only after contracting it myself (15 years ago), did I realize how prevalent it is.    

  • jodi-jacobson

    1) HPV clears.  There are many forms of HPV. Most of the most benigh forms are cleared by the immune systems.  Then there are the most dangerous strains of HPV, those that are responsible for virtuall ALL cervical cancers.  the vaccine eliminates strains that are responsible for some 70 percent of cervical cancer.  I don’t understand why people keep confusing this.

    2) Deaths: Please read the quote you yourself provided:  “In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination.”

    There is no evidence of deaths CAUSED by the vaccine per se.  Death and illness happens all the time.  just because you get a shot on Friday and die on Monday it does not mean the cause of death was the vaccine.  Read the CDC report, don’t just rip things out of it out of context.  Moreover, there is NO medical health intervention nor medication nor procedure that does not have SOME risk or risk of death or illness or similarly associated statistics.  We are very inept in this country in understanding relative risk.

    I am not pushing anyone to get vaccinated or not, nor do I work for, have investments in or feel a need to defend Merck. We are just apparently incapable in this country of understanding these issues.  There is, for example a 5 percent rate of complications from oral surgery and a 0.01 percent risk of complications from first trimester abortion and which is more (uselessly) regulated?  guess.

    In other countries, cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women.  This is a preventable illness just like measles and other such diseases once were and why we vaccinate.

     

    Jodi

  • joust

    This comment was removed for violation of RH Reality Check‘s commenting policy.

     

  • joust

    Speaking of that… looks like you cherry picked her comment for the ONE questionable phrase. And, you assume a lot in your treatment of the comment; I don’t think the ‘female’ portion of the comment is specifically more important in her mind than the ‘adolescent’ part, but you certainly zeroed in on that. Who exactly is the one being ‘troubled’ here? If a questionable vaccine is marketed to adolescent dogs, and I state that in a discussion, is it particularly relevant to yank that sentence out of context and opine as to my state of mind when I wrote that, and whether I would find that more palatable if it were marketed to cats or rabbits? Please. I think the one beign ‘horrified’ here is you.

  • joust

    That you, and Ferret, seem convinced that the vaccine is desirable, and you both seem dedicated to ridiculing ANY argument put forth, by any person, of any intellectual persuasion, that fails to agree with YOUR assessment. What was that, again, about science? Let me tell you a little something about ‘science.’ And before you begin, let me share with you that my DEGREE is in science, and my main field of expertise is microbiology, so no, I am not some credulous tea bagger. The fact is, almost ANY degree in the world, you can carry your credits forward no matter how long ago they were accrued: except science. For a science degree, if your credits are more than 8 yrs old, you have to take those courses over again. Why? Because what we ‘know for a fact’ changes THAT rapidly, in the category of sciences. So much for claims of scientific ‘validity’ of data.

    For me, the relevant data is here: If the risk of death by cervical cancer is 1:40,000, and the risk of serious side effects from the vaccine is 1:900+/-, that is a pretty clear, unemotional, MATHEMATICAL rejection of the vaccine. Factor in that it is NOT effective against *all*, or even the most PREVALENT forms, of cervical cancer, and what you have here is a slickly marketed product, using the public’s rightful terror of the Big C, to stampede parents of young girls into opting for guinea pigs. This product was ‘fast tracked’ because of its cancer claims, and it is extremely expensive (read: lucrative.) Now, just because a drug company makes money is not an evil thing in itself, but the simple fact here is that we are ALL invited to close our eyes and listen to the scary whispers about ‘CANCER!’ while adamantly rejecting the whispers about ‘ineffective’ and ‘dangerous’ because, well, all THOSE people are idiots. Why? Because they disagree with US, the *experts.*

    If you want to disagree on the facts, fine. But it isn’t helping any when you seem to take the position that anyone who disagrees is an idiot, and the proof of this is, well, that they disagree with you. ;o)

  • prochoiceferret

    That you, and Ferret, seem convinced that the vaccine is desirable, and you both seem dedicated to ridiculing ANY argument put forth, by any person, of any intellectual persuasion, that fails to agree with YOUR assessment.

     

    We’ll ridicule any science-y-sounding assessment that is made as a cover to a sex panic. It’s not all that hard to tell when someone is horrified by the prospect of young women having (gasp!) sex.

     

    The fact is, almost ANY degree in the world, you can carry your credits forward no matter how long ago they were accrued: except science. For a science degree, if your credits are more than 8 yrs old, you have to take those courses over again. Why? Because what we ‘know for a fact’ changes THAT rapidly, in the category of sciences. So much for claims of scientific ‘validity’ of data.

     

    So your problem isn’t actually with Gardasil, but with the way academic institutions accept transfer credits…?

     

    For me, the relevant data is here: If the risk of death by cervical cancer is 1:40,000, and the risk of serious side effects from the vaccine is 1:900+/-, that is a pretty clear, unemotional, MATHEMATICAL rejection of the vaccine.

     

    As I recall, cancer tends to have some “serious side effects” of its own even when it doesn’t kill you.

     

    Factor in that it is NOT effective against *all*, or even the most PREVALENT forms, of cervical cancer, 

     

    Except the HPV strains that are responsible for 70% of cervical-cancer cases. Seems pretty prevalent-y to me!

     

    the simple fact here is that we are ALL invited to close our eyes and listen to the scary whispers about ‘CANCER!’ while adamantly rejecting the whispers about ‘ineffective’ and ‘dangerous’ because, well, all THOSE people are idiots. Why? Because they disagree with US, the *experts.*

     

    And so you’re inviting people to stop listening to experts, and start listening to idiots. Are you a protege of Karl Rove, by any chance?

     

    If you want to disagree on the facts, fine. But it isn’t helping any when you seem to take the position that anyone who disagrees is an idiot, and the proof of this is, well, that they disagree with you. ;o)

     

    Don’t worry, you’re not an idiot. But the jury’s still out on whether you’re just another troll….

  • tominator

    I think you nailed it Joust. 

     

    One thing, Ferret, you say I really resent: 

    We’ll ridicule any science-y-sounding assessment that is made as a cover to a sex panic. It’s not all that hard to tell when someone is horrified by the prospect of young women having (gasp!) sex.

     

    I am the father of a teenage girl. I am not horrified by the prospect of her having sex. Her school actually did good sex education as did we. We actually bought her her first sex toy. So, I really resent being accused of not being sex positive.

     

    I don’t want her to get cervical cancer any more than I want her to get clamydia, herpes or HIV. But I also don’t want her to get (and she doesn’t either) any unnecessary vaccines due to manufactured hype by a corporate pharmaceutical industry.

     

    And for medical skeptics like me to be pushed into the crazy camp of right wingers who want to punish girls for being sexually active is absurd. There’s a whole world of health advocates who are skeptical of Big Pharma for all the reasons Joust so correctly points out. Oh, yeah, and a close friend of mine who had a life-threatening disease requiring medication was part of a fraudulent drug medical trial where they were encouraged to lie so that the doctors could make their sizable fees from this person finishing this trial. It was clear that there was no interest in an accurate drug trial study, only one that showed the result the drug company wanted for the profit of the company and the doctors who pushed people into the study.  If that study is any example of the “rigors” of drug studies, they’re all fraudulent and we should take drugs only when absolutely necessary.

     

     

  • colleen

    I didn’t even look at anything else at that website.

    Did you even read the entire article you cited ? Because the final 2 paragraps read:

     

    I (Steve) think that they see Gardasil as what one might call a “wedge” drug. For them, the success of this public vaccination campaign has less to do with stopping cervical cancer, than it does with opening the door to other vaccination campaigns for other sexually transmitted diseases, and perhaps even including pregnancy itself. For if they can overcome the objections of parents and religious organizations to vaccinating pre-pubescent—and not sexually active–girls against one form of STD, then it will make it easier for them to embark on similar programs in the future.

    After all, the proponents of sexual liberation are determined not to let mere disease—or even death—stand in the way of their pleasures. They believe that there must be technological solutions to the diseases that have arisen from their relentless promotion of promiscuity. After all, the alternative is too horrible to contemplate: They might have to learn to control their appetites. And they might have to teach abstinence.

     

    This is a report of a Merck presentation in favor of Gardisal.

    No, it’s a right wing conspiracy theory .

     

  • joust

    I stand ready to have that explained to me. I read the TOS, I attacked no one, and my statements were factual. What, you removed them because you disagreed and couldn’t adequately refute me?

  • tominator

    From PR Watch: Profit Knows No Borders, Selling Gardasil

     

    http://www.alternet.org/health/57262?page=entire

     

     

    In the four articles of this series, we have examined the politics and PR of cervical cancer from several angles. The pre-FDA approval hype, masquerading as education, was executed by Merck and its partners, the Edelman PR firm and non-profit organizations including the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation and Step up Women’s Network, to create a sense of fear and urgency in women and parents of girls. Merck continued using its successful non-profit partnership model to push for mandates of the HPV vaccine at the state level. Women in Government, an industry-funded network of women state legislators proved a willing and able channel to influence policymakers across the country. All of this has happened against the backdrop of Merck’s need to recoup financially and image-wise from the Vioxx debacle that is still making its way through the courts, as well as its fleeting corner on the HPV vaccine market.

    More could certainly be written about this issue, including an examination of GlaxoSmithKline and its competing vaccine, Cervarix, that will most likely be FDA approved within a year and is showing more promising results than Gardasil. Legislation being introduced and voted on in various states should be tracked and assessed. And certainly, there is much more to be written about this women’s health issue as it plays out around the world. Especially because the vast majority of cervical cancer deaths occur in the developing world, access to this very expensive vaccine will need to be pushed for and funded to be assured.

    Since we began publishing this series, I have been interviewed personally by a variety of media outlets. Journalists have often been asked what I think of the vaccine after having researched it from several angles, particularly since I have a daughter of the age that is being targeted by the PR campaigns. My feelings about it are mixed. Because women’s health is often the neglected stepchild of medicine, women are hungry for what sounds like a miracle development. Vaccination against HPV is probably the most exciting development in women’s health in decades, but its worth has to be balanced with an understanding that it is not a “magic bullet” against cervical cancer. By overhyping its potential, Merck is contributing to a dangerous misconception and creating the risk of women will feel it is less important to have regular Pap screenings — the tried and true, and very effective method for early detection and treatment of pre-cancerous conditions. It would be a tragic irony if women’s infection and mortality rates from the disease actually increase due to the belief that they are completely protected against cervical cancer.

    I think that Merck’s profit motive has led them to willingly allow and encourage exaggeration of the significant value of this vaccine with an overblown and harmful interpretation of it in the media and general public, fueled in large part by their four-part marketing campaign that primed the public for FDA approval of Gardasil. While the drug itself has beneficial potential, Merck’s push for mandated vaccinations primarily serve Merck, especially while it continues to have a corner on the market. At a minimum, mandated vaccinations should not be considered without more and better testing on eleven- and twelve-year old girls, and not until Cervarix or another competing vaccine is available. The role of corporate money in funding non-profit spokespeople that do their bidding in the guise of acting on behalf of the public should be exposed and discouraged, if not outright eliminated.

    Women’s lives will probably be saved by HPV vaccines now and in the future. For Merck, however, that may just be a pleasant side effect of their vaccine.

  • vicster

    First off, I agree with Tominator for choosing to not vaccinate his daughter. As a liberal, pro-choice, agnostic, pro-good science, anti-big Pharma mother of a teenage daughter, I too chose not to have her vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. While the site he sources may have a different agenda, many of the facts stated are found elsewhere. Sites such as
    Citizens For Health have recently published articles (see below, and read the comments too–these aren’t from religious zealots, just people owning their own health):

    http://www.citizens.org/?p=2596

    I think it’s really important to also note that part of the heated debate on this particular vaccine, and vaccines in general, is that good science is no longer running the research, rather it is big pharmaceutical companies. This vaccine was granted a rushed status and didn’t fo through the usual years of tests and clinical trials required, thus leaving our children as the proverbial guinea pigs to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. We all have to recognize that the FDA is clearly lobbied heavily by big-Pharma and big-agriculture and so on. People need to be informed and do their own research. For what it’s worth, I did vaccinate my daughter against all the childhood diseases up to now, but on a delayed schedule created with our doctor, and we broke up vaccines.

    Here is a trailer for an upcoming documentary about this topic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH7DdnXPm2U&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    P.S. While I consider Michele Bachmann to be a complete loon, and who clearly had her facts wrong when speaking on this topic recently, I think it is even more telling how much big-Pharma is really involved with our government when Governor Rick Perry calls for mandatory vaccinations for all teenage girls in Texas while receiving half a million dollars from Merck the vaccine manufacturer.

  • vicster

    But of these stats, how many of these would have been prevented by the HPV vaccination? We all know there are many strains of cervical cancer and that the vaccine only prevents a few–the ones that if left untreated usually disappear on their own in most cases.

    In 2007 (the most recent year numbers are available)—
        •    12,280 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer.*2
        •    4,021 women in the United States died from cervical cancer.*2

  • salmonnationwoman

    As someone that has survived Cervical Cancer that wasn’t casued by HPV, repeat WASN’T caused by HPV, I couldn’t agree more that given the odds it’s not safe for young girls and shouldn’t be mandated by the state. The fact Merck is well known for slanting data in their favor, rushing products to market without independent testing, the vaccine is too risky. There is no vaccine for Epstein-Barr Virus yet it’s linked to many forms of cancer, auto-immune disorders, immune issues in transplant recipients and is sexually, orally and contact transmitted. At the time of my Cervical Cancer over 21 years ago, it was believed mine was caused by EBV, not HPV.

    As someone that’s also survived moderately severe adverse reaction to Small Pox vaccination as a teen, adverse reactions can lead to a lifetime of misery and reproductive disfunction as well as auto-immune, allergy and intolerance issues. I can’t be vaccinated for anything as I’m now allegic to multiple common components used as active and “inert” ingredients. It’s disabling to say the least and isolating socially.

    I would encourage parents to really do their research on both sides before subjecting their children and themselves to vaccines. We can’t keep blaming all our modern woes on genetics and diet when our world is so highly contaminated at so many levels.