CDC facts about the HPV vaccine.
Here, you can explore the Epidemiology of the various strains of the HPV virus. Note that strains #s 16 and 18 are the most common strains found in new-borns. The HPV vaccine covers those strains. Yet the religious right still opposes the use of the vaccine under the argument that contracting HPV is a “Lifestyle choice” While a person might make that judgment on the mother, it seems a rather harsh one to make on her innocent infant. (never mind that 1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetime, and 22% of these will be raped under the age of 12…lifestyle choice? Who “chooses” to have a spouse cheat (26 – 50% depending on if you buy the conservative estimate or the liberal one) on them and bring an STD home?
It is estimated that 50% of the sexually active population is infected with HPV at some time in their lives. It is estimated that 90% of all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, which is the second leading cause of death in women world-wide. HPV is also implicated in a number of other urogenital cancers which affect men and women…as well as genital warts.
Transmission possibilities include: sexual transmission (most likely) transmission from mother to infant, between children who have been the victims of sexual abuse, and non-sexual contact with infected urogenital secretions ( no confirmed cases, but the possibility exists unlike with some other viruses)
Still, control of this virus on a epidemiological level is portrayed as inconsequential to public health, and the equivalent of heart disease, despite is ubiquity and links to several types of cancer…and despite the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing not only contraction of the virus, but also in reducing the risks of lesions in already infected women.
Cost is another argument, but estimates on the opposing side merely pit the cost of mandatory vaccination against a single life (the absolute highest I’ve heard in cost per life saved is $1M. I’ve also heard the cost estimated as low as $81,000 per life saved). Since estimates of value of lives saved to society are frequently in the multiple millions, it seems fair enough.
After all, Religious Conservatives celebrated the Supreme Court decision that would save an estimated 3,000 unborn recently. Yet an expected 3,700 women not dying of cervical cancer in the country is considered negligible., and not worthwhile.
They don’t talk about the money saved in pre-cancerous lesions that needn’t be treated, in transmissions that don’t occur. Plus, those figures fail to mention if they took into account incidences of other potentially fatal and/or life-shortening urogenital cancers which have been linked to HPV (some of them affect men as well).
Add to this the number of different strains of HPV, and the dangers of allowing them to spread unchecked through the population, recombining to create new strains with greater ability for transmission, infection, and a greater possibility of affecting long-term health (risks which would be lowered by control of the virus); and you make a pretty good case for mandatory vaccinations.
Maybe it’s not a slam-dunk, but aspersions about “life-style choice”, and assertions about lowering the resistance of young girls to having sex seems more than a little trivial.
I DID find a JAMA article about mandatory HPV vaccinations. It recommends against mandatory vaccinations. Why? Because backlash from the anti-vaccine crowd could politically endanger the mandatory status of already mandatory vaccines.
Cowards. “Oh, the anti-science people will get us if there’s anything remotely disappointing about the policy. Run away Run away.”
One of their other arguments is that they haven’t seen suggestions as to who would pay for it. Although legislation usually covers that…and it really isn’t the purview of the doctors. Finally, they say that public funding of the vaccine would likely lower the amount of money spent in other areas. That is an interesting question, and it would be interesting if we could see how public funding of the vaccine for poor people might actually lower the cost of treating conditions caused by HPV.
I notice that all of the objections raised in the JAMA article were political in nature, and not medical nor even went into any depth to really look at the epidemiological effect of mass vaccination.
The JAMA article is in response to the ACIP recommendations for girls 9-12 years of age.
[UPDATE: I found a reason why the fundies might now rally behind the HPV vaccine. Apparently, there was a study that showed that it is possible that having the virus might inhibilt the implantation of zygotes into the uterus. In other words...HPV could cause "abortions". They won't do it to save women, or babies that are born (since it's a "lifestyle choice") but maybe they will do it to save teh unborn babies]