HPV Vaccine: The Science Behind The Controversy
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NPR
Posted: January 25th, 2016
The first vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer, came out five years ago. It has become a hot political topic. Behind the political fireworks is a quieter backlash against a public health strategy that has won powerful advocates in the medical and public health community. Many find the public health case for HPV vaccination compelling. But Dr. Diane Harper, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says the vaccine is being way oversold. That's pretty striking, because Harper worked on studies that got the vaccines approved. And she has accepted grants from the manufacturers, although she says she doesn't any longer. Harper changed her mind when the vaccine makers started lobbying state legislatures to require schoolkids to get vaccinated. "Ninety-five percent of women who are infected with HPV never, ever get cervical cancer," she says. "It seemed very odd to be mandating something for which 95 percent of infections never amount to anything. Pap smear screening is far and away the biggest thing a woman can do to protect herself, to prevent cervical cancer," she says. Apart from the comparative advantages of vaccine versus Pap smears, Harper has another objection to mandating early vaccination at this point. She points out that studies so far show the vaccines protect for four or five years. Young women may need a booster shot later. As it stands now, Harper says, vaccinating an 11-year-old girl might not protect her when she needs it most - in her most sexually active years.
Note: Read a more recent article on why the Gardasil vaccine may not be a wise choice. Merck, the company behind Gardasil, had to suspend a questionable lobbying campaign to make vaccination by this costly drug mandatory back in 2007. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.