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Is Anyone Listening When it Comes to HPV Vaccines? -- Editorial

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

For some time now, I have been pointing out numerous facts regarding HPV and the vaccines which are available to potentially prevent six different cancers it is responsible for: cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal and oral. It can be very frustrating when people seem to be more hung up on the mode of HPV transmission than on the fact that we actually have developed, in our lifetimes, a vaccine to prevent cancer.

It’s nice therefore to see a doctor basically touting the same thing. In an article today in the Huffington Post by Dr. William Schaffner of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease does just that.

I’ve long been emphasizing the use of the HPV vaccine for other types of cancers such as breast, prostate, and others, and how eradicating a killer with which we have long been at war should not be overlooked because HPV is transmitted sexually.

Are we not all sexual beings? Well unless of course you’ve decided to cloister yourself and become a monk or a nun. Isn’t that how we all got here in the first place? And now we react as though it were some revolting act of engagement.

Dr. Schaffner states, “Forget what you know about HPV for a minute and ask yourself how you would feel about a vaccine that could prevent seven out of every 10 cases of breast cancer -- it works best when it's given to girls at 11 or 12 because that's when they get the best immune response. Would you be against it? Would anyone?”

He goes on to say, “... it's no different than for any other vaccine. You need to get the measles, mumps or polio vaccine before you are exposed to those viruses or they will not work.”

For years now I have been blogging and writing these sentiments exactly, and the fact that the reason we no longer have to worry as we once did about smallpox, polio, mumps, and rubella (amongst others) is because children have been widely vaccinated against them to such a point that they have become practically eradicated. Smallpox, a scourge which claimed the life of one in four, was considered to have been eradicated with no new cases reported since 1978.

I was much younger during the age of the sexual revolution, of free love and flower children. I never did think however, that we would have reverted back to what has become such an archaic way of thinking.

I’m certainly not implying that sex with everyone one meets is acceptable, but I am saying that we simply cannot allow something I also thought had been eradicated -- this prudish behavior -- to prevent our children and generations of others to be protected from cancer.

Years ago when this country waged its “War on Cancer”, it seems that we wanted such a drug. Now that we have found one, we have issues about using it. Are we going to delay the eradication of future cancers all because it just so happens that this virus happens to be sexually transmitted? Unfortunately, for the children of many individuals, the answer is yes.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines. National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2011.

Repeat After Me: HPV Is an Anti-Cancer Vaccine by Dr. William Schaffner. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2011.

Reviewed November 14, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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